THE BOOK OF BOB

BY

Robert Price


























Robert H. Price
P.O. Box 9138
Santa Fe, NM 87504-9138
(505)982-7967
birdman@trail.com

Characters

Birdman, Bob Price, 84 year old performance artist

Joseph Price, Navajo man, Birdmanís host.

Preacher

Dark Woman

Granddad, Birdmanís grandfather.

Mama Price, Birdmanís grandmother.

Joe Stenko, poet.

Jesus

God

Lizard

Chief

First Man

Second Man

Third Man

Demon

Rachel Price, Birdmanís daughter.

Sarah Price, descendant of Joseph and Birdman.

Eddy Price, Josephís father.

Birdboy, Birdman as a child.

Young Birdman, Birdman as a young man.

Policeman

Smaller Guy

Large Man

Lon Price, Birdmanís brother.

Mockingbirdís Voice

Cherokee Voice

St. Johnís Voice

St. Cristinaís Voice

President Hawkinsí Voice

Chairman Xiaoís Voice

Reporterís Voice

Military Analystís Voice

Commercial News Broadcast

Native News Broadcast

Christian News Broadcast

Alternative News Broadcast

Government Broadcast

Emergency Broadcast

Voice on Loudspeaker

2 Shadowy Figures

5 Old Men, first men in the world.

Congregation

BL Lacerta, new music improvisation quartet.

Victor Dada, poetry performance ensemble.

The Gods

The Trees

Sarah Priceís Family

ACT I

SCENE I

It is June 26, 2041. The stage is set in three sections: a rectangle ďhouse,Ē a round or octagonal hogan (or roundhouse) and a space with a large rock signifying the outdoors. The scene begins with the house set up like an elegant dining room. A piece of paper is placed near the center of the dining table.

RACHEL (offstage): Dad! Can you help me with the groceries? Dad? Are you there? Dad!

RACHEL enters and reads the letter.

RACHEL: Shit!

She puts her hand over her eyes and cries. The ďhouseĒ set changes into a homey living room while we hear Birdmanís voice of the speaker system.

BIRDMAN: Dear Rachel, Taking sanyasa. Donít worry. Iím in good health and among friends. Perhaps weíll meet again in another life. Please donít disturb the time I have left by trying to find me. Dad.

A small ranch home. BIRDMAN and JOSEPH enter. JOSEPH turns on the light with his elbow. His arms are full of instrument cases, a six-pack of cokes and a sack of groceries. Birdman is carrying one soft suitcase.

JOSEPH (Setting down instruments and putting groceries away): You know where everything is, Birdman. The bathroomís over there. Youíre welcome to anything we have in the kitchen.

He looks over at BIRDMAN and sighs. BIRDMAN, still holding his bag, is looking out the door at the hogan.

BIRDMAN: Thank you, Joseph.

BIRDMAN carries his bag into the hogan with awe and reverence. He kneels down on a Navajo rug and lights a gas lamp. He pulls a journal out of his bag to the sound of crickets and truck tires throwing gavel. He begins writing.

BIRDMAN (Under lamp light only. No stage lights.): June 26, 2041. I made a decision some time ago that I would do my own version of sanyasa on my eighty-fourth birthday. Really what I did was just sneak away like an adolescent running away from home. After you pass a certain age everyone starts treating you like a child, so, like a child, I got fed up and split. Why am I here? I want to approach death with the sublime elegance that can only be accomplished in a performance situation. Am I afraid? Of course I am. I will admit that because I donít know what lies ahead. My letter to my daughter, Rachel, was worded more to fit her belief system; one I had taught her. Why am I writing this? Partly out of my own artistís vanity and partly to help me purge myself of thoughts, memories and attachments, which have always plagued me. Therefore, when I write, I am not really at my best.

He stops writing and turns out the light.

SCENE II

Stage lights come up on BIRDMAN, walking towards the rock. He stops and listens very carefully to a ďconcertĒ of ravens before he continues down the path to the canyon (ďoutsideĒ space).

BIRDMAN: I know of no other way to approach my death than through these habits Iíve developed as an artist. Like the ďNovenas,Ē which are what I call my nine-day performance pieces, I have set aside a time in which my inner self may be as free as possible to interact with the unexpected. Sometimes Iíve made rules suited to the uniqueness of each setting of the piece.

(Sits on a large rock and writes in his journal.)

I have used journals to document my experiences which get processed and transformed into performances that I can share with others at a later time...This piece will never end, not even with my death, because it will continue with me into the void.

(BIRDMAN whistles with the birds. His whistle closely matches those of the songbirds. He stands up and groans when he watches a bird fly low to the ground by him and then soar over the vast chasm/the audience.)

SCENE III

Birdman is back in the hogan writing in his journal by lamp light.

BIRDMAN: A part of me wanted to chase after the bird, flapping my arms like a fool. I am the Birdman after all. Why shouldnít I fly? I miss having a dog sitting next to me, sometimes running off and interacting with the environment like my thoughts.

BIRDBOY is playing with his dog in the outside area while BIRDMAN speaks from the hogan.

BIRDMAN: When I was a child my dog taught me how to observe nature. We spent long hours together doing just that. My dog was, to me, both my mother and my twin. Her name was Happy. She and I would sit together and watch, making mental note of every sound and movement, which contrasted the slow sighing of the wind. We were always keenly aware of our own movements in relation to the worldís rhythmic dance. Happy was quick enough to catch any creature too close to us, who dared to break the gentle rhythm of the wind.

BIRDBOY and the dog go into the house. They act out the scene described in the narrative.

BIRDMAN: Once a bird flew into the house through the fireplace and soared upstairs into my bedroom. I knew that Happy could catch the bird. The grownups never allowed Happy upstairs, but I was alone and decided on my own to lead her up the stairs to my room so she could catch the bird.

BIRDBOY leads Happy up the steps on the aisle, which divides the audience. The bird is caught in the back of the performance space and then BIRDBOY leads Happy back down the steps to the outside area.

BIRDMAN: I didnít want her to kill the bird, so I led Happy down the stairs to the rose garden, scolding her all the way.

BIRDBOY: Donít bite! Donít bite, Happy!

BIRDBOY leads Happy outside. He has Happy by the collar. Happy has a bird in her mouth. BIRDBOY is bending over Happy, trying to get her to drop the bird.

BIRDMAN: When we made it to the garden I spanked her head.

BIRDBOY: Let go! Let go, Happy!

BIRDMAN: Happy opened her mouth and the bird flew away. I donít have a dog right now, though I did think about getting one a few years ago. I decided against it because dogs become so attached to their masters that I couldnít bear the thought of leaving such a friend behind.

(He cries.)

Why, after over seventy years, do I miss her so much that now Iím crying like a baby? What a detached sanyasi Iím turning out to be!

SCENE IV

BIRDMAN is outside looking over the canyon. He listens to the sound of an airplane. He sings with the plane and moves his arms as if he is pointing to where the airplaneís sound is coming as it pans across the entire performance space. He hears the cry of the canyon wren.

BIRDMAN: The canyon wren is making fun of my boo-hooing! Thereís probably over a hundred people flying over me right now. The airplane and I sang a duet together. He doesnít have to breathe! Iím trying to think as little as possible. I need to lie down.

(Lies down)

I havenít had a bath since I got here. For a while I tried moving my arm with the movement of the sun. Got tired. I donít think Iím as good at this as I used to be.

(Starts writing)

I have to get this down so I can stop thinking about it.

A YOUNG BIRDMAN, with no shirt on, is performing vocal sounds through electronics in the house, which may be made to look more like a warehouse.

BIRDMAN: I keep remembering journaling like this during the performance of Aus den Sieben Tagen in 1987. We followed performance rules by Karlheinz Stockhausen for seven days. Stockhausen performed the piece about twenty years earlier. Ours was more of a Rock and Roll version. One movement, called ďGold Dust,Ē lasted for four days and had us fasting, being silent and thinking as little as possible. This is where the idea for my Novenas came from. I took what I liked from the Stockhausen piece and made many variations on it for the rest of my life.Nine days felt better than the seven and my friends and I decided we could do without the fasting.

A new music quartet is performing electro-accoustic music in a concert hall/hogan.

BIRDMAN: If you know anything about my work, I wonít need to explain that my aesthetic grew out of my experience of being in a new music improvisation quartet from the time I was eighteen years old to when I was over thirty, also, from imitating birds since I was three.

YOUNG BIRDMAN is squealing on a clarinet while wearing a multi-colored outfit and mask.He is lying up-side-sown on the stairs.

BIRDMAN: I went on to create performance art pieces and then focused on my work with the Novena Project.

Lights change to sunset colors. BIRDMAN is still writing in his journal.

BIRDMAN: Writing this kind of promotional bio is taking me away from my present purpose. It should be sufficient for me to say that I had mapped out 156 Novenas to be performed around the world and only did 79. I had tried unsuccessfully to summon a dreaded curse on my descendants if they didnít any Novenas after I had passed on.Other people have performed them with out me, but it has fallen out of fashion.

The setting sun is speeded up.

BIRDMAN: Birds, insects and lizards have become merely fuzzy blurs in contrast to the slow majestic movement of the sun. I take joy in the sunís setting because I have faith that it will rise again.

SCENE V

Four men are hovering around the body of another man outside. BIRDMAN is asleep in the hogan.

BIRDMAN: I had a dream last night about five old men who were living together. The oldest one of them died. He was the first man ever born and his name was God. The four others placed a large disk, with a hole through the center, on Godís chest and lowered the body into a deep dark grave. The men sang an ancient song to God in low voices. This caused the disk to glow from extreme heat, which caused the body to burst into flames.

A blinding light comes from the body. JOSEPH enters the hogan.

JOSEPH: Birdman!

BIRDMAN: Yeah.

JOSEPH: Youíre sleeping in the hogan?

BIRDMAN: Yes, I am. Isnít that ok?

JOSEPH: Of course, so long as you donít die there.

(Touches BIRDMAN)

You seem pretty healthy to me. What makes you think youíre going to die anytime soon?

BIRDMAN (Stretches and yawns): I donít know. Itís just that Iím getting old. I must be getting close and I havenít done much to prepare for it.

JOSEPH (Looking for cracks in the walls): I think you have many years left, but if you start feeling strange at all...

BIRDMAN: I know. Iíll sleep in the house.

JOSEPH (Sits next to BIRDMAN): I mean no disrespect when I say that I would rather you spend your last moments with your other family.

BIRDMAN: Are you that worried about my ghost hanging around?

JOSEPH: Well...Cindyís pretty upset with me for helping you run away and all...

(Smiles)

and your ghost would be pretty weird to have around here.

BIRDMAN: Would she feel better if I got a letter off to Rachel periodically?

JOSEPH: Yes, that might help some.

BIRDMAN (Pretending to be offended): ...and why would my ghost be any weirder than anyone elseís?

JOSEPH: You know. Youíre a performance artist. Haunting is sort of a form of performance art and I think you might be way too good at it.

BIRDMAN (Laughing): I hadnít really thought of it that way. You make it sound so tempting, but I donít think I want to die to then continue a new stage in my career.

JOSEPH: Itís a pretty place. You might get attached to it...and then think of all the fun youíd have scaring those ghost busters.

BIRDMAN: No, no, no...Iíll move on somewhere else.

JOSEPH (Offers BIRDMAN his hand to shake): Promise?

BIRDMAN (Looks at JOSEPHíS hand but doesnít take it): Of course. Are you really that worried?

JOSEPH (Miming each image): Sort of. I remember hearing about a piece you did where you wore this big Tasmanian Devil head-dress and chased the audience with these big genitals made out of balloons. Now that might be a terrible ghost to have around.

BIRDMAN (Laughing and wiping the tears from his eyes): I was being the African god, Ogun.

JOSEPH: Then there was that poem, ďLots of liquid leaps long lengths...Ē

BIRDMAN: ď...along my ladyís legs, letting us laugh like little lads and lasses with lilting fa-la-las. I like to lap my ladyís liquor while licking her labium lightly until a lather laves lick lava leaving my lecherous face.Ē

JOSEPH (Moaning like a ghost and running around the room with his hands outstretched): I like to lance my ladyís lap with my long lingam...

BIRDMAN (Laughing and choking): Something like that.

JOSEPH (Sitting down and looking serious): I donít think that itís good for the children to be hearing that kind of carrying on by your ghost.

BIRDMAN: Ok. I get the point. When Iím ready to die, Iíll just go on a very long walk so thereís no chance of anything like that happening.

JOSEPH: I suppose, if youíre determined to die here and not with your own people.

BIRDMAN: I thought we were family.

JOSEPH: I guess everyone is in some way, but Rachel is your daughter. Sheíll want to be with you as long as she can.

BIRDMAN: I know, but it would be too hard to get myself ready to die with all of them around, and my having to think about their feelings.

JOSEPH: Well, they are having those feelings whether youíre there or not...and what about my feelings?

BIRDMAN: Good point...Iím sorry...I just need some time to prepare myself.

JOSEPH (Getting upset): Thatís something else I donít quite understand. Why all this thinking about death? What kind of preparation does anybody have to do for that? Couldnít you just go on with life until death is ready for you?

BIRDMAN: But thatís all Iíve been doing. I want to be really ready. I want to look death straight in the eye. I donít want to fool myself about death, like making up stories about it, or pretending itís not there. I want to be resolved into this perfect state of non-being, which is rapidly approaching...and I still donít really know what that means.

JOSEPH: Ok, whatever. Youíll write Rachel though?

BIRDMAN: Yes, but without letting on where I am.

SCENE VI

BIRDMAN is in the hogan writing in his journal.

BIRDMAN: Independence day and the last day of the Novena, but itís not the last day because I keep going, indulging myself like Kafkaís ďHunger Artist.Ē Perhaps this is my Independence Day for this very reason. Declaring my own personal independence is about as patriotic as I can manage right now.

Military atrocities are shown on video monitors.

BIRDMAN: I canít say I have approved of all the effects of American patriotism. It often comes in conflict with more universal values.

(Stops writing and speaks directly to the audience)

Today, when the art of negotiation has risen to unprecedented heights, our nations conduct their business with each other like boys on a playground. As a citizen of the United States I am personally responsible for everything our nation does which includes every armed conflict. However, the greatest influence I can have on our government is through my buying power, which, I must admit, has been rather limited. The most sophisticated techniques have been employed by large corporations to manipulate us emotionally, psychologically and even sexually to buy what they want us to buy and even vote the way they want us to vote. Corporations have become dependent on the enslavement of mass populations of ďdevelopingĒ countries. This state of affairs will not last forever because resentment all over the world has been building for years. It is inevitable that we will one day suffer the fate of imperial Rome unless we can dismantle the empire peacefully through our own good will towards the people of this world. However, today, our weapons are more destructive. We will all suffer when one or more nations declare that liberation is more important than life itself.

(The video stops playing. BIRDMAN resumes writing)

Perhaps my fear of hospitals is related of trust I have in ďthose in control.Ē I was in the hospital when I was seventy years old. I had a problem with my kidneys. It makes me sick just thinking about it, so I wonít go into details. It was frightening more because my life seemed to be entirely in the hands of young doctors, than the original problem that got me there. The fear I felt was similar to what I felt when I was arrested. I was driving into the parking lot of the Bath House Cultural Center where I was performing with BL Lacerta...

Police car lights flash in the outside area. A POLICEMAN cautiously approaches YOUNG BIRDMAN who is wearing a suit and tie.

POLICEMAN: May I see your driverís license?

YOUNG BIRDMAN hands him his driverís license and the policeman takes it back to his car. BIRDMAN looks impatient. The POLICEMAN returns with his gun drawn.

POLICEMAN: Please step behind the car and place your hands on the trunk.

The POLICEMAN searches YOUNG BIRDMAN and then puts handcuffs on him.

POLICEMAN (To the audience): Please everyone stay back.

The POLICEMAN takes YOUNG BIRDMAN into the house area, which is looking like a jail. A POLICEWOMAN gets BIRDMANís fingerprints and takes his personal belongings.

POLICEWOMAN: May I have your tie, please?

BIRDMAN: ...uh, oh...ok.

(He hands her his tie.)

BIRDMAN watches quietly while some big men fight over the phones.

SMALLER GUY (Speaking on the phone): Iím in jail! Can you please loan me the money...

A LARGE MAN hangs up the SMALLER GUYíS phone and takes it away from him. BIRDMAN is trying to get comfortable in his cell while a basketball game is playing loudly on the video monitor.It is suddenly quiet.

VOICE ON LOUDSPEAKER: Robert Price?

YOUNG BIRDMAN: Uh...Yes?

VOICE ON LOUDSPEAKER: Please step toward the doors.

Doors open as BIRDMAN steps towards them. He passes warily through each of them. No guards are in sight. He steps into the outside area looking cold and shaken.

YOUNG BIRDMAN (To the audience after a long pause): This would be a terrible place to live for someone who grew up listening to classical music.

BIRDMAN (From the hogan, still writing): Although I had only been arrested for forgetting about a jaywalking ticket, I think that I would rather die than lose my freedom like that again.

SCENE VII

BIRDMAN is outside, performing a concert on musical instruments while interacting with the birds and echoes.

BIRDMANíS VOICE (On tape): Why do I bother spending so much time thinking about something I may never really understand until all thinking stops? Maybe Iím just wanting the transition to happen gracefully. No matter how avant-garde my work has seemed to some, Iíve always been very lyrical. Iíve even been criticized for how I do everything so nicely. ďPrice is niceĒ is what they used to say even when I was very little. Perhaps, if I embrace my fate, I might go to the other side nicely...willingly.

BIRDMAN leaves the outside area and enters the hogan. He sits on blankets and leans against the wall, chanting. Lights create the effect of the entire performance space passing through the sun while he chants.

BIRDMAN (Repeating over and over again as rapidly as possible): Hari Krishna, Hari Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hari Hari, Hari Rama, Hari Rama, Rama Rama, Hari Hari...

The light is dimming rapidly in the hogan. BIRDMAN stops chanting and listens to his heartbeat and the whine of his nervous system (on tape). Light fades to total darkness while we still hear the body sounds.

SCENE VIII

BIRDMAN and JOSEPH are playing music together in the hogan.

JOSEPH (Singing a country song): We live for your promises

For thatís all you can give

You no longer love us

Or want us to live.

BIRDMAN (Interrupting): But the Dineí wouldnít need any help from the government if they would just depend on the profits from the natural resources on their land.

JOSEPH: Yes, but our Elders had us use those funds in preparation for the time that the Native People retake the land after the decline of our oppressors.

BIRDMAN: That could take a while.

JOSEPH: Not according to the Elders. They believe the time is near. The United States will fall.

BIRDMAN: Iíve heard this before. Do you believe itís true?

JOSEPH: I wouldnít question the wisdom of the Tribal Elders right now. Theyíve been dead on about a lot of things. Theyíre not getting senile like some people we know.

(He winks at BIRDMAN)

BIRDMAN (Trying to ignore the wink): Howís this supposed to happen?

JOSEPH: Nobody knows...or is saying.

BIRDMAN: When is it supposed to happen?

JOSEPH: Soon.

BIRDMAN: Do you want it...

JOSEPH (Shrugs his shoulders): The Dineí could have been given their freedom a long time ago, but I know there is not likely to be an adequate solution to our problem of sovereignty so long as the U.S. government is still stable.

BIRDMAN: I think the consequences of what you are saying are kinda scary.

JOSEPH: It scares me too.

BIRDMAN: Iím sorry I made you stop. Letís do that song again and Iíll play along.

JOSEPH (Grabbing his guitar): Ok.

BIRDMAN and JOSEPH play together on a country tune written and sung by JOSEPH. BIRDMAN plays clarinet.

JOSEPH (Singing): We live for your promises

For thatís all you can give.

You no longer love us

Or want us to live.

We wanted our land.

Was forced to settle for lies.

We gave you a hand

And you made no replies.

We live for your promises

For thatís all you can give.

You no longer love us

Or want us to live.

You take without giving.

You reap without sowing.

We canít make a living,

But you continue growing.

We live for your promises

For thatís all you can give.

You no longer love us

Or want us to live.

We walked the trail where they cried.

You walk the path where you lied.

And when nearly all of us died

You shed a little tear and just sighed.

We live for your promises

For thatís all you can give.

You no longer love us

Or want us to live.

BIRDMAN and JOSEPH finish the song and laugh. JOSEPH begins tapping on his guitar and they go into a very free improvisation. They sometimes sing deconstructed fragments from JOSEPHíS song:

JOSEPH and BIRDMAN (Yelling, singing and laughing): No, thatís your little lies...We want a longer can and give us longer growing love...You canít want promises...We all sighed for you...We can live for land...You shed your trail...Thatís nearly all you give...Continue our walk where we cried...Weíre made to settle all promises...Thatís living for love... You walked us for you...Reap us longer for a path...Our promises died...Thatís us...You live...Youíre just us...You no longer live when you give to a can...We give promises for sowing, to live without replies or love for all...The tear was forced for us, or they lied...Live, live or live...We gave you our love without you...You want your giving... We make you live longer... And, can you take us where you wanted, or no?... And, you want us to butt the four of us?

They laugh again when the improvisation comes to its conclusion. JOSEPH sings while he walks slowly outside and stops just before going offstage.

JOSEPH (Singing): `eye ne yanga

My home, nganga yene,

My home, nganga neye ne,

My home, neye,

Now, nga, it causes fear, ye, halagei!

Neye, now Changing Woman, her son, since that is who I am, 

niyi gowo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now the Sun, ye, his son, since that is who I am, niyi 

gowo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now the Great Bear, dark, ye, since that is who I am, niyi, 

gowo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now the wind, dark, ye, since that is who I am, niyi gowo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now flint, dark, ye, with this, ye, at my home, ne,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

My home, ye, now with its flash lightning, wo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now zigzag lightnings, ye, four at a time flashing out from 

me, ye,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

It strikes, dala, it strikes away from me to where my enemy 

is, `eya,

Those evil-minded ones, ye, with powers of witchcraft, go 

away from me crying, yewo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

It strikes, dola, all the way from me, ye,

The evil-minded ones, neye, are bowing their heads, yewo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now a feather, living, ye, with me it is rising up, yewo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

Now Long-life-returning, now Danger-all-around, since that is 

who I am, neye wo,

My home, `anga, it causes fear, ye deye,

My home, ghana neye,

My home, nga neye,

Now, ne, it causes fear, `e-yeye he!

JOSEPH waves and exits. BIRDMAN continues to play by himself on the clarinet.

BIRDMANíS VOICE (On tape): I hope it doesnít sound too conceited when I say that sometimes I am very moved by my own playing. This is when I can detach myself from the process of making music. A part of me sits back and is dazzled by the music that is being performed by another part of myself. I sometimes think that the part that is playing the most soulfully is my brother. My brother, Lon, is more famous now than when he was living. Some of his fans are very surprised that I am his brother mainly because I am White and they thought he was African-American. All of us who grew up in the South share much of the same culture that everyone else did that grew up in it. Iíve been a tribal official of a Texas band of Cherokee. Iíve learned the language and the customs that havenít been lost through acculturation. Soul food came from the Indians. Lonís fat sound came from the Black clubs of Ft. Worth, Texas. Iím listening to him play ĎRound Midnight right now. Just listen to the music. Mm-m-m-m.

Round Midnight begins playing on tape. LON, wearing a white suit plays tenor saxophone along with the tape of orchestral accompaniment. He is in the house.

SCENE IX

Sound of raining. BIRDMAN is writing a letter in the hogan.

BIRDMAN: Dear Rachel, Iím so very sorry for the tone of my last note to you. I knew it was very inconsiderate of me to be so glib about my own death, especially to my daughter. No matter how accepting we can be intellectually of death, the very idea of it, in relation to those we love, is such a horror. The very thought of any harm coming to you is unbearable for me. Also, the mere knowledge that my parents would likely die before me would always make me cry. Iím so sorry, and I want to assure you that I am ok and feeling quite well. I am enjoying myself here at the most beautiful spot in the world. A dear friend checks on me every week, and believe me when I say, he has no intention of letting me die here. He keeps me well supplied with food, coffee and cokes. I miss you and I intend to see you when I become bored with this project. However, you probably know me well enough to know this could take some time. Just be comforted in knowing that, when you see me again, I will be transformed, glowing with light and joy, and not that grouchy old man that was causing you so much grief before. Iím sorry about that also. Iíve always been very proud of you and I am constantly amazed by how much patience youíve had with me. You cannot imagine how much I am looking forward to being with you again so that ďwe two alone will sing like birds Ií thí cage. When thou dost ask me blessing, Iíll kneel down and ask thee forgiveness. So weíll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues talk of court news; and weíll talk with them too - who loses and who wins; whoís in and whoís out - and take uponís the mystery of things as if we were Godís spies; and weíll wear out, in a walled prison, packs and sects of great ones that ebb and flow by thí moon.Ē Love, Dad.

BIRDMAN stands up and looks at the rain debating to himself whether to jump out in it or not.

BIRDMAN: Oh, what the hell!

(He runs out into the rain)

BIRDMAN runs and dances in the rain in the outside area. He sings and screams.

BIRDMAN (Jumping around): Yee-oww!!

(Singing)

Iím singing in the rain!!

(Splashing around in muddy puddles)

Come on!! You can do better than that!!

(Shakes his head vigorously, splashing water everywhere)

BIRDMAN enters the hogan drenched. He lights the fire in the stove and the hogan is filled with an orange light. A silver crucifix is glowing red in one corner. BIRDMAN looks intently on JESUSí face who stares back at him. BIRDMAN helps JESUS off the cross and they sit together on the Navajo blankets.

JESUS: Thanks, man.

BIRDMAN: No problem. Mustíve been a drag hanging on that cross for over two thousand years.

JESUS: You said it. You like the rain?

BIRDMAN: Yeah. It was great. Come with me next time and we can wash some of the blood off you.

JESUS: Sounds good to me.

BIRDMAN: What did you think about what Joseph was saying the other day?

JESUS: Iíd take it seriously. Itís good you wrote that letter to Rachel.

BIRDMAN: You think itís ok that I go back.

JESUS (Smiling white teeth against his dark skin and beard): Contrary to popular belief, I didnít come here to lay on any guilt trips. Youíre doing whatís right for the present circumstances. If you spend your final moments here, thatís ok too. Itís really not such a big deal.

BIRDMAN: Thanks. Iíve always thought of you as my friend.

JESUS: And what are friends for? You need your savior to hold you for a while until you can get to sleep?

BIRDMAN: Yes, I would like that...if you wouldnít mind washing the blood off of you first.

JESUS: No problem.

JESUS goes outside to rinse off, come back into the hogan and holds BIRDMAN while they lie down on blankets.

SCENE X

BIRDMAN is outside. He chases a lizard, trips and falls. He tries to break his fall with his hands but collapses onto his face. Bloodied, he goes into the house. BIRDMAN takes his time, carefully cleaning and bandaging his wounds. He puts too many bandages on his head and face. He realizes how ridiculous he looks when he sees himself in the mirror but leaves the bandages the way they are and goes back outside. BIRDMAN listens to the mockingbird while he watches the movements of the lizard.

In the hogan a dancer dances LIZARDís part. Light and sound represent the Mockingbird.

BIRDMAN (From outside. Words are echoed in Cherokee on tape): Lizard and Mockingbird lived worlds apart. One being was of the Sky and the other was of the Earth, and both had very little understanding of one another. Mockingbird loved the freedom of the open sky and the security of a nest on a high tree branch. Lizard loved the cool dampness of her hole in the Earth, her mother.She would sometimes bask in the Sunís rays while lying with her belly against her mother. She did not know that the Sun was her father. All the earth beings admired Lizard for the way she moved. Her dancing seemed to blend the movements of everything around her. They could watch her without seeing her and feel themselves slip into another world while their breathing and the beating of their hearts seemed to pulse with hers. Mockingbird was also praised, but by a society that Lizard could not have known. Mockingbirdís art was done with eyes closed. He sang songs and his songs seemed to encompass and contain everything. All the other birds and most of the other creatures learned their songs from him. Each would receive their song as from an oracle and would then go away in order to practice and perfect it. Mockingbird never sang the same song twice. One day Lizard did something she had never done before. She could hear the distant voice, which seemed to come from the sky. She ventured a little ways up a tree in order to hear better. Mockingbird also did something he had never done before. While he was singing...he opened his eyes.

CHEROKEE VOICE (Echoing BIRDMAN): Ti-yo-ha?-li a-le Hu-hu tsu-de-le e-lo-hií a-ni-yv'-wi-(ya). Saí-wu e-hna?-i ga-lví-lo:-(hi) a-yví-wi -(ya) a-le so?-i e-lo-hi a-yv'-wi-(ya) a-le i-tsu-la i-gv-sa tla a-noí-l'-ga. Hu-hu a-du-da-le-s-di u-ta-na ga-lví-lo:-(hi) u-da-ge-yu-ha a-le a-da-nv-s-ga ka-ne-s-dah tla-hv?-i ga-lv-la-di u-waí-ní-ga-tlv u-da-ge-yu-ha. Ti-yo-ha?-li u-hyv:-dla u-wo-deh-wi-da a-ta-le-sv?-i E-lo-hií, u-?-tsi, u-da-ge-yu-ha. Ti-yo-ha?-li yu-da-ha?-i nv-da a-ga-s-ga a-da-wo?-a hi-la-yv?-i uí-s(n)?-wo:-tli u?-tsi-lv?-i ga-ní-hga. Ti-yo-ha?-li Nv-da u-doí-da tla-u-nhí-ta. Ni-ga-d(a)e-lo-hií a-ni-e-hna?-i Ti-yo-ha?-li a-lí-s-gi?-a a-ni-lví-la-di. A-l'-s-gi?-a e-li-s-di a-l'-s-gi?-a ni-kv?-in a?-v a-su-yv-s-ga. Yi-n-ga-l'-s-di-ha-gwu ki-lo u-k'-se-s-di tla a-go-wh-ti-ha a-le di-dla so?-i e-lo-hi' u-da-nh-ta u-li-go-hv-s-di hi-la-yv?-i u-no-le a-le ah-lo-s-ga du-n'-da-n'-to'-gi e-li-s-di gv-hdi u-ti-n'-to'-gi ah-lo-s-ga. S-gwu a-ni-yv'-wi Ti-yo-ha?-li tla-u-nh-ta Hu-hu a-ni--lv'-la-di. Hu-hu nv-wo-ti gv-hdi da-k'-ta-s-di-ha go-hlv-s-ga. Ka-no-gi:-s-di'-s-gi de-ka-no-gi?-a e-li-s-di ni-kv?-i a-ni-hlv-s-ga a-le a-ni--nh-tse-ha. Ni-ga'-d(a) so?-i tsi'-s-qua a-le si?-wu so?-i eh-na?-i di-ka-no-gi-s-di a-ni-deh-lo-hgwa?-a. Si-yv-wi-ya ka-no-gi:-s-di'-s-gi ga-ne-gi?-a a-le na-hi-yu wu-de-li-ga a-le a-k'-tv-le-s-ga a-le da-tse-hla go-hlv-s-ga. Hu-hu uh-lo-yi ka-no-gi:-s-di'-gi ta'-li i-yu-wa-k'-di hla-i-lv-hi-yu(i) de-ka-no-gi?-a.

Slide projector makes a spotlight on LIZARD. Slide of textures dissolve against LIZARD as she moves.

BIRDMAN (Echoed in Cherokee): Lizard could feel herself being seen in his music. She blushed to the color of the tree but he could still see her movements. He was entranced by the complexity of one pattern, which was moving against the bark in sympathy with his song which was also his soul. In this way both souls were joined and out of Lizardís egg, out of the Earth, Birdman was born.

CHEROKEE VOICE (Echoing BIRDMAN): Sa-gwu i-ga Ti-yo-ha?-li go-hu-s-di a-dv-ne-ha i-gv-yi na-hi-yu hla i-lv-hi-ya a-dv-ne-ha. Ge?-i:' u-no-h'-yv-hga a-tv'-gi-(a). E-li-s-di ga-lv'-lo:-(hi) nu-la. A-s-ga-wa-la?-i wu'-s-ta ka-na-lu-s-gv?-i tlu'-kv e:-ga a-le wo:-su a-tv'-gi-(a). Hu-hu go-hu-s-di a-dv-ne-ha i-gv-yi na-hi-yu hla i-lv-hi-ya a-dv-ne-ha. Hi-la-yv?-i de-ka-no-gi?-a di'-k'-to'-li u-dla-nv-da. Ti-yo-ha?-li u-da-nh-ta Hu-hu Ti-yo-ha?-li a-ya?-a ka-no-gi:-s-di'-gi a-go:-ti-(a). Ti-yo-ha?-li a-de-ho-s-ga a-su-wi-t(v)tlu'-kv ga-ne-dli-yv?-a a-le si Ti-yo-ha?-li a-l'-s-gi?-a a-go-ti-(a). Hu-hu uh-yv-s-de?-a sa-gwu di-tli-lo:-s-doh-di ga-du da-su-hwi-ga a-su-yv-s-ga u-tlo-yi di-ka-no-gi:-s-di'-s-gis-gwu a-da-we'-hi-hi?-a. Hi?-a i-yu-wa-k'-di da-ga-tsv'-s-ta-nv-i a-le do-yi Ti-yo-ha?-li u-we-tsi, do-yi E-lo-hi, Tsi'-s-qua-a-s-ga-ya a-yv'-wi-(ya).

SCENE XI

BIRDMAN and JOSEPH are in mid-conversation in the hogan. JOSEPH tries to find things to do while he talks.

JOSEPH (His voice sounds angry): Thereís a really nice radio in the house. The speakers are really fine.

BIRDMAN: I know. Iíve been trying to conserve electricity.

JOSEPH: The radio uses barely enough juice to count and youíve obviously been in the hogan all the time because I checked the batteries and theyíre fully charged. Youíve probably never turned on a light in the house.

BIRDMAN: Busted!

JOSEPH: I know you think youíre done with the world, but you know, it isnít done with you until youíre gone. A lot is going on and you know nothing about it.

BIRDMAN: I stopped listening to the news media ten years ago. Iíve never trusted it anyway.

JOSEPH: Yeah? But did you know that people are talking about how there's going to be a nuclear war and how they need to start locating emergency shelters?

BIRDMAN (Imitating JOSEPH): Yeah? And Iíll bet the news ratings are soaring.

JOSEPH: China is boasting about its first strike capabilities. They want to take Japan and donít want the U.S. to interfere, but the U.S. says, ďNo.Ē

BIRDMAN: Theyíve already got Taiwan and Korea. Whatís their justification for taking Japan?

JOSEPH: Payback for WWII, I guess.

BIRDMAN: You know theyíre just rattling their swords. They did that for a long time about Taiwan.

JOSEPH: Right, and then they took it.

BIRDMAN: Maybe theyíll take Japan someday when they really think we wonít interfere.

JOSEPH: They say they donít care anymore. They donít need to care. They could attack us anytime they want so we canít interfere ever again.

BIRDMAN: Arenít they still somewhat economically dependent on the U.S.?

JOSEPH (Throws up his hands): Where have you been? China has been economically stable and independent for over a decade.

BIRDMAN: What about U.S. retaliation?

JOSEPH: They say their missile defense system can handle anything we can throw at them.

BIRDMAN: What about the so-called ďricochet effect,Ē fall-out, nuclear winter and all that?

JOSEPH: They believe that all that has been greatly exaggerated by our ecologically-minded scientists. And besides, they think theyíre too far away for it to affect them even if it is true.

BIRDMAN: All this is in the news? Doesnít it sound like bluffing?

JOSEPH (Calmer): I might have thought so if it werenít for the Eldersí prophecies.

BIRDMAN: I donít know what to think of all this. Usually the press will say anything that will keep people glued to their T.V. sets. Iím on a news fast. I know your stereo is fine but nothing beats what Iím listening to right out here.

(Looks out the door)

JOSEPH (Walks towards BIRDMAN): It isnít going to kill you to listen to the news every once in a while. Maybe it will convince you to go home.

BIRDMAN (Shaking his head): And be with my family in an emergency shelter all because of a bluff?

JOSEPH: Hey, itís like a happening. If itís all bluff, then weíll just have had a big bonding experience that will make good stories for later on.

BIRDMAN: Weíll forget all about it when the next ďcrisisĒ happens.

JOSEPH (Starts to walk out): Whatever. Do what you want.

(Stops)

If, for some reason, I canít make my weekly visits with supplies, thereís a big elk cut up and wrapped in the deep freeze.

BIRDMAN: Thatís got to be sucking up some ďjuice.Ē

JOSEPH: Not this deep freeze. I bought it recently. Itís really energy efficient.

BIRDMAN: Ok. Anyway, hereís a letter for Rachel.

(Hands JOSEPH the letter)

JOSEPH: Itís about time.

BIRDMAN: Sorry, Iíve been so busy.

JOSEPH: Busy doing nothing.

BIRDMAN (Laughs): Thinking of lots of things not to do.

JOSEPH (Squints at BIRDMAN and comes back into the hogan): What happened to your face?

BIRDMAN (Vogues): I thought youíd never notice. Do you like it?

JOSEPH: Sure, youíve got that mummy thing going.

BIRDMAN: Is my bandaging job that bad?

JOSEPH: Well, I can still tell itís you. But what did happen?

BIRDMAN: I just tripped and fell.

JOSEPH: How did you do that?

BIRDMAN: I wonít lie about it, though Iím tempted. I was chasing a lizard.

JOSEPH (Laughs, points and claps his hands): Ha! Great White Hunter. Ha! Ha! Thatís what weíll call you, Birdman.

BIRDMAN: The lizard wasnít white.

ACT II

SCENE I

BIRDMAN is in the house, playing with the radio dial while he listens to various news programs.

COMMERCIAL NEWS: ...cans are flying their flags in support of President Hawkinsí position concerning the defense of Japan.

PRESIDENT HAWKINSí VOICE: The United States must stand up against blatant aggression. China has been allowed to expand its evil empire too long and it must now be stopped.

REPORTERíS VOICE: Mr. President, do you have a statement concerning Chinaís threat to use nuclear weapons against the United States?

PRESIDENT HAWKINSí VOICE: I have secured the best missile defense system for our country that technology has to offer. The Chinese are far behind the U.S. in both anti-ballistics and missile deployment. The consequences of their attacking the U.S. are much greater for them than for us..and they know it.

The radio plays popular music from the future.

POP SONG (Like a rock lullaby): I wanna fuck your head.

I wanna fuck your head.

I wanna fuck your head....

(Ad libitum)

ALTERNATIVE NEWS: ...China states that itís ballistics are superior to those of the U.S. and will not be intimidated by the first ďanti-ChineseĒ president in decades. Chinaís Chairman Xiao claims to be merely realizing the cultural connection that has existed between China and Japan since pre-colonial China. At the same time he sees China's move towards Japan as the decisive step for finally freeing China from the shackles of American imperialism. Now, for our main story: Eduardo Hermosa has been indicted by the Mexican high court for his role in the massacre of a small village outside Oaxaca...

NATIVE NEWS: ...the indigenous people continue to suffer oppression from the Mexican government, which is supported by U.S. advisors. Hermosa had been the staunchest ally of the indigenous...

COMMERCIAL NEWS: The list of atrocities and war crimes by the Chinese military continues to grow...

NATIVE NEWS: The Elders of the Maya concur with those of the Hopi that we are entering a time mentioned in the ancient prophecies. The story implanted on this continent by European colonists will soon come to its end. The original stories of the Americas will finally be allowed to continue their cycles...

CHRISTIAN NEWS: ...the Lord is coming. He may even come tomorrow to judge the quick and the dead. The trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised....

SCENE II

BIRDMAN is standing on his rock outside, shading his eyes while taking in the whole of the canyon (the audience).

BIRDMAN: I didnít listen to the news today. Iím sorry, but it really just seemed like the same old stuff merely entertainment posing as news. I admit theyíve taken the shock element much further than they have before. This isnít a maya thing - the worldís illusion and all that. This is just my own value judgment based on past experiences.The threat of attack is merely another Chicken Little story. Unfortunately, terrible consequences may result from numbers of people believing the press and panicking. Meanwhile, Iíve been hanging out on my rock and taking in the beauties of nature.

BIRDMAN points at the walls of the performance space as if they were the walls of the canyon.

BIRDMAN: Imagine how many changes the earth has gone through in the time it took for this canyon to reach its present state. Those layers of rock, exposed by the Colorado River cutting through them, represent a history dating before life on this planet ever existed. The earth will certainly survive anything that man can do to it. Life would probably make it also. The past catastrophes are partly responsible for the evolution of this adaptable animal called ďman.Ē It is ironic that this animal may have evolved enough to create a catastrophe of its own; one that could destroy its own species.

(Observing the wildlife around him)

Now letís see if these critters and the majestic beauty around me still have any significance for me after contemplating the possibility of the destruction of civilization as we know it. Some people come to the desert and see nothing but barren wasteland, yet life and ecosystems all around are rather obvious to anyone who has spent any time here (outside of a car, of course). One cannot find any part of this land, which is completely devoid of life. Yet, nuclear bombs were first tested in another ďwastelandĒ very close to where I am standing now. God knows how tired I am of humans scraping and scaring this earth.

BIRDBOY enjoys his Easter basket on the steps in the aisle of the performance space while BIRDMAN tells the story to the audience. BIRDBOY acts out parts of the story.

BIRDMAN: I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was about five, before we moved to Euless. Two things proved that he didnít exist. First, I found a box to one of my toys (one he was supposed to have brought me) in our garbage can. Second, I heard my sister ask my brother, ďWhat do you want Mama and Dad..I mean...Santa Claus to bring you for Christmas?Ē But, in Euless, I found better proof that the Easter Bunny did exist. One fine Easter morning, after finding and enjoying my Easter basket, I went for a walk in the woods with my dog, Happy. We found a tree, huge with long thick grapevines hanging from it, beside a ravine, which ran towards the creek behind our house. There was a rabbit hole at the bottom of the tree and, in this hole, was an opened and spilled plastic bag of marshmallow Easter eggs. I knew then that the Easter Bunny lived in that beautiful spot among the virgin woods.

BIRDBOY goes into the house and looks at the audience with horror.

BIRDMAN: Then, one day, the bulldozers came and erased every trace that the ravine had ever existed. I watched in horror from our glass doors while the Easter Bunnyís tree was pushed down and burned so that people could build a house behind us. After that the woods disappeared rather quickly. I never got very close to the boy who moved in behind us, though I did respect his super-human ability to throw things.

SCENE III

BIRDMAN is lying on his back with his arms and palms turned upwards. A lizard crawls onto his palm. BIRDMAN looks at the lizard out of the corners of his eyes. He stays very still and cries.

SCENE IV

JOSEPH is sitting in a comfortable chair in the house while BIRDMAN paces.

BIRDMAN: Iíve been listening to the news, but Iím still not convinced that anythingís going to happen. I think weíve been seduced by the media who are playing on the Christian apocalyptic death wish.

JOSEPH: Maybe so, but itís still a dangerous time for us if the Chinese think itís in their best interest to attack us. It seems like theyíve just been waiting for an excuse.

BIRDMAN: Iím not so convinced that any people, including the Chinese, can be in total agreement about a thing like that. Thereís a democracy movement over there and I havenít heard any evidence that people are rallying around any imperialist notions.

JOSEPH (Shaking his head): Now I think youíve been taken in by American propaganda. The Chinese government has kept their ďdemocracy movement,Ē which probably only exists because of the C.I.A., well under control since Tiannamen Square. Also, China doesnít want to come off as imperialist. Weíre supposed to be the imperialists whom they wish to defeat. A nationalistic stance would turn the other countries against them.

BIRDMAN: And bombing the U.S. wouldnít cause other countries to turn against them?

JOSEPH: Theyíre trying to portray themselves as liberators.

BIRDMAN: Do the Dineí see them as liberators?

JOSEPH: No, not unless they destroy themselves in the process.

BIRDMAN: Do the Elders believe that China will be destroyed also?

JOSEPH: They say that the power of both countries will be reduced considerably. Therefore, the Chinese will be too busy rebuilding their own country to be able to spare any troops for coming over here. The Native People of all the Americas will take back their land. Many tribes have been stockpiling weapons. We will add to this firepower as well as provide natural resources for a new confederacy of tribes. Many tribes have their own nuclear shelters. Iíve seen ours. Theyíre all high-tech.

BIRDMAN: Arenít there large groups of survivalists doing the same thing?

JOSEPH: Sure, but I think our efforts are better organized. This is something that all tribes, that survived European colonialism, have been doing for decades. Weíve even planned what our new geographic tribal boundaries will be.

BIRDMAN: And you were all able to agree on them even the Navajo and Hopi?

JOSEPH: We just want the land that was ours before the White Man came. That means weíll expand towards the Northeast, while the Hopis would get an area larger than the joint use area.

BIRDMAN: I see. Why hadnít I known about this before?

JOSEPH: Youíve been kinda outta touch. So, you should come and stay with the rest of us Prices.

BIRDMAN (Sits on a couch across from JOSEPHíS chair): Thank you for your kind offer, but I did come here to die. Surely there wonít be enough room in shelters for everyone on this continent. On principle, I really shouldnít go. Iím not in any condition to help anyone else survive. The best thing for me to do for others is to stay here on my own.

(Stands and paces again)

Hey, just one minute! Iím talking like Iím believing all this is happening when Iíve been thinking all along it is only media hype. Donít you realize what a distraction this has been for me? My spiritual quest is very important to me. Donít you and the Elders think about spiritual matters anymore?

JOSEPH: Yes, but our spirits are telling us how to survive as a people.

BIRDMAN: Iím too old to worry about my own survival, but,...

(Sits on couch)

if anything does happen, will you take care of my family?

JOSEPH: I was wondering when you were going to ask me that. All I can say now is that Iíll see what I can do. Sneaking you in by yourself would be no problem, but Iíll need to ask permission to bring a whole family.

BIRDMAN: It would be a great comfort to me knowing that theyíre in your care.

JOSEPH: I still think you should come along, at least until things get set up. You like starting new things.

BIRDMAN: Nice try.

BIRDMAN follows JOSEPH around while he shows BIRDMAN where to find tools and gadgets around the house. JOSEPH speaks a very quiet voice to BIRDMAN while BIRDMAN speaks to the audience.

BIRDMAN: We didnít say much more to each other for the rest of the day. He was too busy working on the place, working like he was expecting God to come and visit. However, just before he left, he barraged me with motherly reminders about the elk in the deep-freeze, the gas-powered generator, first aid and even the place where he keeps a small stash of weapons. He left late at night and didnít say good-bye.

SCENE V

BIRDMAN is outside listening to the MOCKINGBIRD whose song changes to words. MOCKINGBIRDíS song is still heard in the background.

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: Youíre not a householder anymore. You should be praying and preparing yourself for God. You should be praying for those you leave behind. You should be praying for peace. You shouldnít need a mockingbird to tell you this. Rituals are not merely for the participants. They benefit the whole world. They keep the universe in order. Youíve been too self-indulgent. Youíve caused others to be as self-indulgent as yourself. Youíve missed so many opportunities to generate peace.

BIRDMAN: But Iím and artist and no one likes an artist if heís too preachy.

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: Then maybe you should have been a preacher instead.

BIRDMAN: From which religious tradition would I have preached?

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: What a question! You do you not preach what others tell you but what is in your heart.

BIRDMAN: You sound like you expect me to do this now. Iím too old and Iím about to die.

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: You are too old to compete with others in the world, but you are now finally old enough to teach others how they should live.

BIRDMAN: But you have been implying that I havenít lived well enough. How can I be qualified to teach others how to live?

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: Because you know how you should have lived and you can help others avoid the mistakes you have made.

BIRDMAN hurries up the path into the house. He goes through the kitchen cabinets and finds bags of cornmeal and tobacco. He grabs the bags and takes them outside. BIRDMAN makes a mound of tobacco on the rock and makes rings of cornmeal around it. He prays intensely, but quietly.

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE: Thatís a good start! Thatís a good start! Thatís a good start! Thatís a good start!...

SCENE VI

BIRDMAN is in the house, listening to the radio.

CHRISTIAN STATION: ...pray to God, for we are only awaiting his glory; the glory of the Rapture.

BIRDMAN (Sarcastically): Lord, spare us of another one of you Raptures!

BIRDMAN turns off the radio and goes outside. He watches the birds. They seem to be holding council with the MOCKINGBIRD as parliamentarian.

MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE (Echoed in Cherokee): ďThe world is bad. It has been ill used,Ē said Mockingbird whose home was abused,

ďBy Man for the sake of his own destruction.

He has left no place for my own construction.Ē

All around Mockingbird, gathered many with the same concern:

Eagle, Duck and Hawk did learn

Mockingbirdís plan and then told other birds:

Cardinal and Robin listened to his words

And passed them on to Raven and Dove,

To Buzzard and Nightingale whose song we all love.

And, by the time word had gotten to Pigeon and Quail,

All birds knew the plan so that it could not fail.

Mockingbird had said, ďWe will fly to the Sun.

There we will plant new seeds for our young.

In this new world no man will be allowed

And we will continually raise our chorus high and loud,

But Man will only hear the songs of his machines

And his forests will not spread, thus creating more desolate 

scenes.Ē

So, at his word, they flew away in a day

To their new paradise to plant trees, build nests and lay

Their eggs and give the warm Sun their songs of praise

For the blessings of life-giving and glorious rays.

Man had hardly noticed when the forests became silent

Because his machines were so loud and his wars were more 

violent.

But, when the insects multiplied and ate all his food

And covered him with bites, he began to brood

And sulk and say, ďSomething is wrong with this day!Ē

But it was too late because with the birds, and their song

Went Manís art and his bread for his wrong.

As the birdsí paradise flourished with abundant fruit

Manís earth became nothing but desolate soot.

CHEROKEE VOICE (Echoing MOCKINGBIRDíS VOICE): ďE-lo-hií u-yo:-i. A-s-qua-laí,Ē Hu-hu a'-di?-a tsu-we-nv-sv-i a-ni-s-qua-laí, ďGv-hdi Aí-s-ga-ya v-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di a-yo-hu-hi-s-di. Hla i-lv-hdí-lv?-i ka-ne-s-dah aí-qua-tseí-li.Ē Ni-gaí-d(a) s-qui:-s-di a-na-dah-li-si-ha gv-hdi Hu-hu gv-hdi uh-lo-yi u-we-li-hi-s-di: Wo-haí-li, Ka-wo:-n(i) a-le to-woí-d(i) a-ni-ga-de-loh-gwa?-a U-ye-hlí-di Hu-hu a-le tsi-s-qua a-ní-di?-a: To-tsuí-hwa a-le Tsi-s-quoí-ga di-ka-neí-tsv a-ní-tv-gi A-le Go-la-nví a-le Wo:-ya a-ní-di?-a, A-le Su-li a-le S-qua-leí-wa-lií ka-no-gi:-s-dií-gi ni-gaí-d(a) i-gi-ge-yu-a. A-le, i-yu-wa-kí-di Gv:-le a-le Gu-que a-no-lí-ga, Ni-gaí-da tsi-s-qua a-ni-tv?-i a-le tla u-yo-huí-se. Hu-hu ga-di?-a , ďI-ni-no-hi-li-e-s-di di-dla Nv-da. Hi?-a i'-tse u-ni-g'-ta v-s-gi-hnv i-ni-tv-hi-s-di-ha-e-s-di i-yu-s-di a-ni-da. Hi?-a Ií-tse e-lo-hií v?-tla aí-s-ga-ya A-le di-di-hnoí-gi ga-lví-la-dií a-le s-ta-yi, A-le aí-s-ga-ya ka-no-gi:-s-dií-s-gi Ďíu-tseí-li ta-lu-gi-s-gi a-tví-gi-(a) A-le u-tseí-li a-doh tla-u-ni-tv-s-ge-s-di, a-le si-we u-si-hwa e-lo-hi' go-hlv-s-ga.Ē V-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di ka-neí-tsv, a-ni-dla-wi-di-ha saí-wu i-ga Ka-ne-s-dah te-tluí-kv ga-lv-la-di v-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di a-doh u-hwi-s-di, aí-qua-tseí-li u-wo-hlv-nhí-di a-le tsu-we:-tsi Da-ni-hv'-s-ga a-le Nv-da u-gaí-noí-waí ka-no-gi:-s-dií-s-gi u-hne-hdi V-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di ní-da-hne-hdi gv-hnv?-i-a-hne-ha a-le ga-yeí-sa-dv wo:-su. Aí-s-ga-ya tla-tsi-go-whí-ti-ha ni-ga-lí-s-tií-s-dv a-doh eh-la-we?-i V-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di u-tseí-li ta-lu-gi-s-gi s-ta-yo-sv a-le u-tseí-li da-hna-wa si-gwu ga-na-ye-gi. A-se:-hnv, di-(ní)-da-tsv:-s-gi tsv-s-goí-yi a-le u-tseí-li a-lí-sí-da-i-hdi a-na-lí-s-ta-yv-hví-s-ga. A-le a-s-ga-ya da-na-hna-wo?-a gv-hdi u-s-ga-lí-s-di, u-ne-gi-hlí-di ni-gaí-lí-s-ti-(ya)(haí) A-le a-dlo-hyi-ha a-le a-di?-a, ďU-yo na-gwa-lí-s-tah-ne. E-e-e-e! I-i-i-i!Ē A-le u-go-hni-yo-ga v-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di gv-hdi tsi-s-qua ka-no-gi:-s-dií-s-gi Aí-s-ga-ya u-woí-du a-le ga-du v-s-gi-hnv i-yu-s-di u-tseí-li ka-na-lv?-i-s-di. E-lo-hií tsi-s-qua a-lí-tso-hví-s-ga gv-hdi u-da-ta-nv a-gi:-s-di E-lo-hií aí-s-ga-ya ni-gaí-lí-s-ti-(ya)(haí) ko-s-du.

SCENE VII

BIRDMAN is in the house, fiddling with the radio dial while he listens to the radio.

PRESIDENT HAWKINSí VOICE: History will judge us. America has and will always stand for freedom and democracy.

BIRDMAN: Iíve heard enough rhetoric about ďhow history will judge usĒ to make me sick. Historyís just another form of media hype.

CHAIRMAN XIAOíS VOICE: History will remember our efforts and see the Chinese as the liberators of nations enslaved by the American imperialists. The workers must unite against this evil empire.

PRESIDENT HAWKINSí VOICE: We can no longer negotiate with barbarians.

BIRDMAN: Those stupid children!

COMMERCIAL NEWS: ...both parties refuse to negotiate despite Russian diplomatsí efforts to forge a compromise. Meanwhile, China has mobilized its warships near the coast of Japan. President Hawkins has called this an act of war against the free world. He has ordered deployment of naval forces in the Persian Gulf to reinforce the fleet stationed in Japanese waters.

MILITARY ANALYSTíS VOICE: The Chinese may have developed a larger nuclear force, but their arsenal is technologically at least ten years behind that of the U.S.

COMMERCIAL NEWS: Bill Schrieber, military analyst. The public is being reminded to locate emergency shelters in case of nuclear attack. They are asked not to horde supplies, yet stores seem to be emptying. There is a particular shortage of bottled water, toilet paper, batteries, flashlights, canned goods...

BIRDMAN: And Iíll bet the stock market is soaring. I canít make any sense of all this. I know that all perception is subjective and there canít be any unbiased reporting, but no one is even trying to be unbiased...

(Begins writing)

The world is maya, however, the illusion seems to be created by a minority of individuals who wish to manipulate us for the sake of their own profit. When I listen and believe what I am hearing, I am supporting the reality it represents. I am turning off the radio now...before I become too addicted.

(Turns off the radio)

SCENE VIII

BIRDMAN is in the house, listening to the radio.

NATIVE NEWS: Lakota Elders of the Pine Ridge Reservation will host a Gathering of All Indian Nations and perform a nine-day ritual for peace.

BIRDMAN moves excitedly, getting closer to the radio.

NATIVE NEWS: The Pope is sending an envoy to the gathering to communicate the Churchís support and blessings on it. The event will begin on Wednesday, August first, and last until August ninth.

BIRDMAN: The beginning of the fifth Novena!

BIRDMAN begins writing.

BIRDMAN: The Lakota Elders have given hope to myself and millions of others. Those who would benefit the most from the destruction of the United States seem to be doing the most to prevent it. Despite five and a half centuries of being oppressed, these kind people are working to save their enemies who have been oppressing them. Like Christ on the cross, they offer their blessings to those who have destroyed them. What cold heart cannot be melted by this pure expression of love?

BIRDMAN turns off the radio and leaves the house. The offering of tobacco and cornmeal is almost gone. BIRDMAN restores it and then prays and cries.

SCENE IX

JOSEPH rushes into the house holding a letter, waking BIRDMAN who has fallen asleep on the chair.

JOSEPH: Birdman! I got a letter for you...from Rachel!

BIRDMAN (Sleepily): From Rachel? Can I see?

(Opens the letter and reads aloud)

ďDear Dad, Thank you for your recent apologies. I am still trying to understand why you felt like you needed to run off like that. You should know (and trust) me well enough by now to be certain that I would never try to stand in your way when you want to do something, especially something thatís related to your work. Although you may have often pushed yourself to the limits of your endurance, you always seem to come out of it a healthier and wiser person. But, this running away from home is the craziest thing you have ever done. It was very mean and inconsiderate of you to just disappear like that and leaving nothing but an enigmatic note behind. Fortunately, Cindy called me just after you had left with Joseph. She told me where you would be and that Joseph was taking good care of you. So you weren't being nearly as sneaky as you thought!

(Glares at JOSEPH)

ďI am very happy that you are having a good time. I hope that I get to read something about it when you get back. I will never forget the Novena you designed just for the two of us, when it rained so much that you were trapped with me, a six year old, in the back of a small Datsun hatchback. I had your complete and undivided attention for how many days - 5 or 6? I donít imagine that you have been listening to the news. The media is trying to disturb us with Ďsword rattling,í as you would put it. Joseph has given us the kind offer of shelter, if we need it.

(Gives a nod of approval to JOSEPH)

ďI will leave it at that so as not to disturb you too much with worldly concerns. Joseph said heís already told you too much. I must confess that I would feel much better if you would come home until all this blows over, if for nothing else than so we might reassure each other that this is only maya. Love, Rachel/P.S. I would also like for you to apologize someday for adding that quote from Lear to the end of your letter. That wasnít mean. It was cruel! You know very well how that scene makes me cry! P.P.S. It was also very sweet though. I love you too much.Ē

SCENE X

BIRDMAN enters the hogan, sees JESUS on the cross and sighs. He writes a letter to RACHEL.

BIRDMAN: Dear Rachel, Thank you for being so understanding. You had every right to be angrier with me than you were. I donít believe in all these political happenings either. However, I would like for you to take off from work and take the family to visit Joseph for a while, at least until the news gets less scary. Iíve been monitoring the Gathering of All Indian Nations, which is being held at the Pine Ridge Reservation. Seems like theyíre having a Novena of their own thatís beginning today. It corresponds to the fifth Novena of the nine-Novena series Iím performing by this canyon. Iím planning on coming home when the series is over. Maybe Iíll finally be able to retire after that. Ha! Ha! Iím sure that, by that time, the public will have become bored with this apocalyptic thing and the media will start talking about something else; like a juicy sex scandal. Iím trying to imagine that Iím at the gathering now, so Iíll cut this short (though I may add more later on). Hug all the kids (and their kids) for me.

BIRDMAN goes outside. The birds are gathering. Powwow songs are heard on tape while BIRDMAN sings and dances. Suddenly he is dancing very slowly and full regalia are projected on him.The mockingbird is singing loudly.

SCENE XI

BIRDMAN is outside at night, covering his ears while the mockingbird sings frantically.

SCENE XII

BIRDMAN is on his stomach, gripping the rock by the canyon in daylight. The mockingbird is still singing frantically.

SCENE XIII (INTERMISSION)

BIRDMAN is still on his stomach, still gripping the rock. It is night. The mockingbird is still singing.

ACT III

SCENE I

BIRDMAN pulls himself away from the rock. The world is silent and too bright. BIRDMAN listens to his footsteps as he walks back to the house. BIRDMAN switches on and off the light switches, appliances, etc. Nothing works. He gets the radio to work by unplugging it.

EMERGENCY BROADCAST (Electronic alert sounds): ...repeat: this is not a test. Please listen for the locations of the emergency shelters in your area. When you have determined the shelter closest to you, please bring one bag per person of only essential items such as prescription medicines, one change of clothes, toiletries, etc. Please listen for the following locations of emergency shelters: Flagstaff, downtown area....

BIRDMAN examines the electrical system. The meters are charred and broken. The wires aremelted, fuses gone bad, etc. BIRDMAN finds replacement parts and replaces as much as he can. He stops to check the lights. They still donít work. He leaves the house and goes to the canyon.

SCENE II

BIRDMAN watches in awe as auroras fill the night sky. Lights continue to flash while he walks back to the hogan. Colored lights enter the hogan through the ceiling, changing from the brightest white to a deep brown red. Accompanying sounds change from bright shimmering bell sounds to wailing human voices. The light becomes pools of blood with footprints, beginning at the cross (which is empty) and going through the door. It begins raining with rapid peals of thunder.

SCENE III

A few birds sing while BIRDMAN watches a very red sunset, yet his attention is mostly directed toward a pitch-black cloud coming from the North.

SCENE IV

BIRDMAN turns on a noisy gas generator, turns on the lights and breathes a sigh of relief. He opens the deep freeze. The elk is starting to thaw, so he sets the thermostat at its coldest setting.

SCENE V

BIRDMAN is outside, looking at the sun. When he looks away he sees members of a Baptist congregation inside the hogan.

PREACHER: I want to tell you about that day. That day! my friends, when the Good Lord will raise the dead right outta Hell! Thereíll be thunderiní

(Thunders)

and bells will be aclanginí

(Loud bells and gongs)

And, youíll just barely be able to hear the Earth open herself up with a big olí sigh!

(Sighs)

And, the heat from the Earth will feel like the heat from that good olí Sun which will have gotten much hotter!

CONGREGATION: Lord, Iím burniní!

PREACHER: Hotter, I say, from all that great love thatís bindiní all souls together.

CONGREGATION: Love the Lord!

PREACHER: You see that Sun?

CONGREGATION: Yes!

PREACHER: Itís so bright you canít look at it, but you see it and you feeel it!

CONGREGATION:I feel it, Brother!

PREACHER: You feel that warmth from the love of all those good souls huddled up there in Heaven. And who do they love?

CONGREGATION: The Lord!

PREACHER: Yeah, they love the Lord all right and they love you! Yes, you, my friends, Ďcause you their children. And, they even be burniní for those poor soulswho werenít so good; those who come up late Ďcause they been burniní with shame! But the Lord knows, and all these good souls in Heaven know, they just forgot their Lord!

CONGREGATION: Praise the Lord!

PREACHER: And on that day...mercy gets big!

CONGREGATION:Mercy, mercy, mercy!

PREACHER: Iím sayiní it gets sooo big! Bigger...than even justice ever was. Everybody gets to feel all the warmth from Godís love! And what is it that holds all this universe together?

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): God!

Love!

PREACHER (Wipes his brow): Thatís right, my friends. Godís great love holds us all together and gives us life. What if you didnít love your children?

CONGREGATION: No! No! No!

PREACHER: What if your folks didnít love you?

CONGREGATION: No!

PREACHER: Weíre all folks and weíre all one people bound together by our love!

CONGREGATION: I love you, Brother!

PREACHER: And on that day!

CONGREGATION: Oh Lord, come quickly!

PREACHER: The Good Lord cometh and we all see everything in a new light of understanding.

CONGREGATION: Show me the light!

PREACHER: We see all by the light of the Lord!

CONGREGATION: Amen!

PREACHER: And there will be no evil!

CONGREGATION: Amen!

(relatively long pause)

...and then what happens?

PREACHER: Well...I donít know.

CONGREGATION: What?!

PREACHER: The Lord hadnít told me yet.

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): Well, pray to the Lord!

We go to the Lord!

PREACHER: Yeah, we go to the Lord all right, butI donít know if we become part of Him or separate and loved by Him.

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): Part of Him!

Loved by Him!

PREACHER: Do we then cease to exist? That might be a Hell to somebody.

CONGREGATION (A very small voice): Amen.

PREACHER: But, all I can say is that it will be sooo good!

CONGREGATION: Amen!

PREACHER: And, even if itís not what we wanted or expected, it will be better Ďcause of all this love.

CONGREGATION: Love the Lord!

PREACHER: And the Lord told me that all this goodness will be for everybody, and weíll all feel that love cominí outta everybody, even those devils and monsters of Hell!! ĎCause everybodyís got to have this love if the story ever gonna end. And if the storyís never gonna end, then what happens?

CONGREGATION: What happens, Brother?

PREACHER: Then the story just goes around and around and around...Now, to some people thatís good.

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): It is!

No, end the story, Brother!

PREACHER: Itís not in my hands. I donít decide how the storyís gonna end. Only the Lord knows.

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): Praise the Lord!

Ainít he gonna tell us?

PREACHER: I donít reckon the Lordís gonna tell us...But you know, even if it keeps goiní around and around, itís what the Good Lord wants.

CONGREGATION: Praise the Lord!

PREACHER: See, my friends, you canít limit the Lord by what you think you want. Maybe the end you were expectiní just came and went. Every plague has been the rapture, and those doomed to Hell are just waitiní for ours, and the Lordís, love to help raise them up. Thatís what the Lord wants because he loves us all and the time has come for us to love each other.

CONGREGATION (Overlapping): I love you, Brother!

(A small voice)

Even Hitler?

PREACHER: Well, the Lord could decide he hadnít stayed long enough but, you know, someday even heís got to come up. Lord knows, heís got to be ashamed even by now! If this gonna work, we got to feel sorry for all the sinners Ďcause we are all sinners, arenít we?

CONGREGATION: Forgive me, Lord!

PREACHER: We ask for our forgiveness, Lord, but we donít ask until we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.

CONGREGATION: I forgive!

PREACHER: I ask you, my brothers and sisters, to forgive me for not knowiní all the answers.

CONGREGATION: Only God knows!

PREACHER: We gotta love and thatís all there is to it! Weíre gonna help the Lord make something happen with our love! And, weíre gonna help end some eternal sufferiní even if the story keeps goiní around and around. ĎCause the next storyís gonna be in Heaven. That next storyís gonna be with the Lord!

CONGREGATION (Applauding): Amen!

SCENE VI

BIRDMAN sits in the darkness in the house, listening to the radio.

GOVERNMENT BROADCAST: ...The United States has successfully launched a thorough and comprehensive nuclear campaign against China. The following cities have been confirmed as being destroyed: Beijing, Talyuan, Zhengzhou,....

BIRDMAN turns off the radio and takes it outside. He burns the radio and then goes into the hogan. BIRDMAN turns on the lamp and writes.

BIRDMAN: The sun didnít rise at all today. I should have greeted it with prayer every day of my life so maybe something like this would never have happened. Why didnít I? The answer is simple: because I am a hypocrite. Why didnít I follow through with my ideas for bringing people together? It might have saved the lives of millions and, if not, I could at least know now that I have done my best. My guilt lies in never knowing what my best is, because I have never done it. But, then again, I keep remembering the saying we used to pass around: ďArt is pretty small stuff compared to war.Ē I used to think this was funny.

BIRDMAN turns off the light and closes his eyes.

ST. JOHNíS VOICE: One a dark night,

Kindled in love with yearnings - oh happy chance! -

I went forth without being observed,

My house being now at rest.

In darkness and secure,

By the secret ladder, disguised - oh happy chance! -

In darkness and concealment,

My house being now at rest.

In the happy night,

In secret, when none saw me,

Nor I beheld aught,

Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.

This light guided me,

More surely than the light of noonday

To the place where he (well I know who!) was awaiting me -

A place where none appeared.

Oh, night that guided me,

Oh, night more lovely than dawn,

Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,

Lover transformed in the Beloved!

Upon my flowery breast,

Kept wholly for himself alone,

There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him,

And the fanning of cedars made a breeze.

The breeze blew from the turret

As I parted his locks,

With his gentle hand he wounded my neck

And caused my senses to be suspended.

I remained lost in oblivion;

My face reclined on the Beloved.

All ceased and I abandoned myself,

Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

BIRDMAN: St. John invokes the power of love and the intensity of eroticism to help bring us to ďthe place where none appeared,Ē yet ďwhere he...was awaiting me.Ē Can I feel this same love for Him without attaching a personality to ďHim?Ē The Lizard, my Muse, is the eroticism that speeds me towards my death. Dying is a form of art for those who are dying and wish it to be so.

BIRDMAN prepares to leave the hogan. The path is very muddy.

ST. CRISTINAíS VOICE: Everything around me silenced totally

Looming a serenity that seems to embrace

Even the tireless leaves and demented wind.

And no sound breaks through my grave

Only the voice of Death heralds me that itís time to get up,

And she embraces me slowly in her arms pulling me to her 

chest.

In black eyes like night I lose myself, entering in them.

BIRDMAN walks through the audience in the darkness. He carries a flashlight.

ST. CRISTINAíS VOICE: Walking in Death I see unseen countries,

Areas that catch themselves though they untie.

And I walk hesitantly on the sweet water sea

So that, shivering a little to see the waves kissing my sole,

The frail stars, like some small seconds,

Float under the step of Death, fading under it.

The same intact silence still follows me,

I feel my thoughts intoxicating me easily

And, in my weariness, I see Death - how she bends

With a hearty smile, closing my eyes again.

Returning to life, I stop myself from writing.

The wet wood under the earth is frightening me now.

And leaves come to life and wind runs again.

Only the silence of my death still remains with me,

More cold and beautiful with every letter,

More alive and near with every word of mine.

BIRDMAN feels his knees pinch and his throat tighten. He comes upon a giant hole in the ground. He sees many Navajo people being very active in the hole. He thinks he recognizes one of them.

BIRDMAN: Eddy?! Is that you!

EDDY laughs maniacally.

BIRDMAN: Are you Eddy, Josephís father?! Youíve been dead for years!

EDDY (Still laughing): Boo-o-o-rdma-a-an!

BIRDMAN rushes back to the hogan as quickly as he can. He goes into the hogan, turns on the light and sees a demon. It grins and looks at BIRDMAN while it mutters quietly. BIRDMAN gets closer, trying to understand what the demon is saying. However, hearing the demon causes BIRDMAN great pain in his stomach and intestines. He quickly backs off to the other side of the hogan and throws up. BIRDMAN sings a song to make it disappear.

BIRDMAN(Singing): In times past I lived long. Nayeínez ghani 

(Elder Brother) made it.

In times past I lived long. Nayeínez ghani made it.

From the blue sky he sends water to put on the soles of your 

feet.

He made pollen which is feared by all evils.

The Most High Power Whose Ways Are Fearful, he made the 

medicine.

In times past I lived long.

Spring Boy, Tquo barjish chini, made the medicine.

In times past I lived long.

He made a Water Woman.

The dew from the Water Woman I put on your heart.

The pollen he made is feared by all evils.

The Most High Power Whose Ways Are Fearful, he made the 

medicine.

In times past I lived long.

The boy who was the grandchild of the old woman, Sani netle, 

made it.

In times past he lived long. The Mist Woman he made whose dew 

I put on the palm of your hands. The pollen he made is 

feared by all evils.

The Most High Power Whose Ways Are Fearful, he made the 

medicine.

In times past he lived long.

The young man, the brother of the Maiden who was turned into 

a Bear,

Tiaíy ya ne ana, from the north, he made the medicine.

In times past he lived long.

The Mountain Woman he made, whose dew I put on top of your 

hand.

The pollen he made is feared by all evils.

The Most High Power Whose Ways Are Fearful, he made the 

medicine.

In times past I lived long. Nayeínez ghani made it.

In times past I lived long. Nayeínez ghani made it.

In times past I lived long Nayeínez ghani made it.

From the blue sky he sends water which I put on the soles of 

your feet.

He made the pollen which is feared by all evils. The Most 

High power Whose Ways Are Fearful, he made the medicine.

The demon vanishes.

SCENE VII

BIRDMAN wakes distressed in the hogan and begins writing.

BIRDMAN: I could be the only human left alive in the world and itís all because I had wished for my soul to be free from the thoughts and memories of others. No! Those thoughts of the people whom I love are not me. Itís absurd to think that I, an old man about to die, is the last human remaining. I want my family to survive! I worked so hard to keep my daughter alive and healthy. I had just wanted to leave so she wouldnít have to do the same for me. But, it was a labor of love and might have been for her. Canít I do anything right!? You didnít cause this! Iím eating some of the elk tomorrow, but I donít feel worthy.

BIRDMAN (To Palestrinaís Missa Nigra Sum): Pater noster, qui es in 

caelis,

sanctificetur nomen tuum.

Adveniat regnum tuum.

Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra.

Panem nostrum quotidianumda nobis hodie,

et dimitle nobis debita nostra,

sicut nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.

Et ne nos inducas in tentationem

sed litera nos a malo.

Amen.

SCENE VIII

Music continues. BIRDMAN is in the house. He pulls a steak reverently from the broiler. He closes his eyes before cutting and eating the meat. The music stops after the first bite and then he continues eating as if it were any other meal.

SCENE IX

BIRDMAN is in the hogan, sitting in the dark and thinking with open eyes. In the house YOUNG BIRDMAN is singing with BL Lacerta and the poetry group, Victor Dada.ďFire, fire, fireĒ is sung in harmony repeatedly, accompanying the Fire Sermon which is sung on two notes.

ENSEMBLE: Fire, fire, fire...fire, fire, fire...fire, fire, fire...etc.

JOE STENKO: All things O priests, are on fire. And what, O priest are these things which are on fire? The eye, O priests, is on fire; forms are on fire; eye-consciousness is on fire; impression received by the eye are on fire; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the eye, that is also on fire. And with what are these passions on fire? With the fire of passion, say I, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of infatuation; with birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair are they on fire. The ear is on fire; sounds are on fire; tastes are on fire; the body is on fire; things tangible are on fire; the mind is on fire; ideas are on fire; mind-consciousness is on fire; impressions received by the mind are on fire; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the mind, that, also, is on fire. And with what are these on fire? With the fire of passion, say I, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of infatuation; with birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief, and despair are they on fire. Perceiving this, O priests, the learned and the noble disciple conceives an aversion for the eye...

Performers begin dancing and clapping.

JOE STENKO: ...conceives an aversion for forms, conceives an aversion for eye-consciousness, conceives and aversion for the impressions received by the eye; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the eye, for that, also, he conceives an aversion. Conceives and aversion for the ear, conceives an aversion for sounds, conceives an aversion for the nose, conceives an aversion for odors, conceives an aversion for the tongue, conceives an aversion for tastes, conceives and aversion for the body, conceives and aversion for things tangible, conceives an aversion for the mind, conceives an aversion for ideas, conceives an aversion for mind-consciousness, conceives and aversion for impressions received by the mind; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the mind, for this he also conceives an aversion. And in conceiving the aversion, he becomes divested of passion, and by the absence of passion he becomes free, and when he is free he becomes aware that he is free; and he knows that rebirth is exhausted, that he has lived the holy life, that he has done what it behooved him to do, and that he is no more of this world....

BIRDMAN: To all the ends of the earth there is no such thing as dangerous!

SCENE X

BIRDMAN walks outside until he comes the big rock. The stage is dark. He flashes his light on something that appears to be an dead animal, but, upon further examination, is seen to be wings made of white elk skin, macaw and goose feathers. He puts on the wings, flaps his arms and darts off towards the sky. This may be mimed. BIRDMAN flies to the black cloud, which is hard as polished marble. He kisses the sky and notices a ray of light coming from a point on the horizon (a small light coming from the door of the hogan).He flies towards it. BIRDMAN enters the Hogan, which is white and filled with blinding light. BIRDMAN climbs onto a white table in the center of the room. Beautiful Black people enter the room in a procession, dancing to Marvin Gayeís ďI Heard It on the Grapevine.Ē They take of their white robes and dance naked while Birdman performs for them. When the piece comes to an end they all (including BIRDMAN) laugh for joy. BIRDMAN then politely excuses himself.

BIRDMAN: This has been a great honor, but my destiny lies elsewhere.

GOD: Thatís ok, man. Come back anytime.

BIRDMAN hugs and kisses each of the gods and leaves.

SCENE XI

BIRDMAN is in the hogan. He turns on the light and begins to write.

BIRDMAN: I think I should reconsider the possibility that I could already be dead. My world resembles the mythological Hades. Thereís never any sun. I seem to be either not sleeping or not waking. But, if I were dead, I don't think I should be experiencing anything - or thinking. Also, if I am a disembodied soul, wouldnít I be able to see my dead body? I hope Iím not a spirit who is haunting Josephís hogan despite his wishes. Perhaps Iím in some kind of coma, experiencing a dark world that exists only in my own unconsciousness. Then, I would be merely dreaming that I am writing. Only you, who are reading this, can know for sure if a physical pencil was being temporally moved against material paper. I canít be sure. My being unconscious would explain why I wouldnít see my body. While I have been exploring this world I have found little or nothing that I know to be a living biological organism. The trees are all dead, no bird makes a sound, and nothing moves in this still and silent world except the wind and myself.

BIRDMAN leaves the hogan and takes a path downhill (downstage and offstage). He comes to two streams running on either side of an adobe house (hogan). He flashes his light on a cypress growing beside the stream to the right. It looks healthy and green. He tries drinking from the stream, but two shadowy human figures begin waving at him to stop.

BIRDMAN: Hi! Iím Bob Price, also known as the Birdman. Actually, my full name is Robert Hardin Price. Hardin came from the French ďHardoin,Ē from Rouen. Price is also Anglicized, but from the Welsh ďap Rhys,Ē meaning son of Rhys. He had been a Squire of the Body to King Edward IV and died for the House of York and, therefore, all of his descendants are called his sons. He claimed descent from a long line of Welsh kings that go back to Aeneas, who was the son of Aphrodite. All the Trojans were supposed to have descended from Jupiter. The Cherokee part of my family say that the animals made us out of the mud they used to make the earth. Iíve enjoyed thinking of myself as a child of Heaven and Earth. Itís helped me cope with life, but I suppose everyone is a child of Heaven and Earth really...

The shadowy figures donít respond. They seem to vanish each time BIRDMAN tries to flash his light on them.

BIRDMAN: The Chinese see all things, ďthe ten thousand things,Ē as coming from Heaven and Earth, and itís not difficult to see how this could be true, especially for life, because it must have been formed through the interaction of the electrically charged atmosphere and the chemicals in the oceans, which reminds me of what I wanted to ask you:

(His throat is feeling dry)

Would you mind very much if I got a drink from this stream. The water looks quite good and...

They shrug their shoulders and wave at BIRDMAN as if they were saying, ďGo ahead and take a drink if you need to, then leave us alone.Ē BIRDMAN drinks and immediately feels disoriented. He walks back to the hogan while memories flood vividly through his mind. Sounds and images from a lifetime of memories are projected on BIRDMAN, walking back to the hogan. The images are accompanied by their respective sounds. Some examples of these memories are as follows:

BIRDMAN is being born in a small hospital in Nebraska.

BIRDMAN is three and watching a flock of birds in his back yard.

BIRDMAN watches and imitates a yellow-hammer woodpecker.

BIRDMAN is five, picking out his dog.

BIRDMAN is following his dog in the woods.

BIRDMAN watches his dog die after she is hit by a car.

BIRDMAN is performing the adagio movement of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.

BIRDMAN is having sex with a woman.

BIRDMAN is performing with BL Lacerta.

BIRDMAN is bonding with a newborn Rachel in a small room of a hospital.

BIRDMAN is walking in India.

BIRDMAN is looking for rocks with John Cage on a creek bank.

BIRDMAN is teaching a college class.

BIRDMAN is getting an award.

BIRDMAN is performing a Novena with several people.

BIRDMAN is flying on an airplane.

BIRDMAN is having an operation.

BIRDMAN is working in a tribal office.

BIRDMAN is performing a Novena alone on a mountain.

BIRDMAN is sitting alone thinking.

SCENE XII

BIRDMAN is writing in the hogan and sniffing from a cold. He is in bright electric light. Sounds and images of memories intrude intermittently.

BIRDMAN: I stayed in today to nurse a cold. Itís pretty minor, just some sniffles and a sore throat - further evidence that Iím still alive. I did have trouble sleeping, however, I had too many thoughts and memories flowing through me.It was the embarrassing ones which kept me awake, memories I had rather not recount; especially here in writing. I had to teach myself not to think so that I could get the rest I needed.

(He looks at photographs set all around in Josephís house.)

My viewing objects closely in the electric light helps me bring my mind back to a more ďnormalĒ consciousness. I must do this periodically if I am to complete the nine Novenas. Otherwise, I would lose myself in the unconscious and quickly move on to non-being before I have finished. I am discovering just how easy this fast road to death may be. I suppose it is only my artistís vanity that is keeping me alive now.

(He picks up a photograph and holds it while he writes.)

While my mind is working its way back from the world of dreams, I still am seeing beyond the ďrealityĒ represented by these photographs. These are shadows, left over from events which have passed and will never return again. Every photograph seems to be a false clinging to existence; an attempt at immortality. What happens when these shadows become separated from the people who can understand their significance? The photographs become sad disembodied souls indeed, trapped in a purgatory of the undefined.

BIRDMAN finds some osha root and puts it in boiling water. After letting it boil he puts a towel over his head and breathes in the vapors before drinking the tea.

ACT IV

SCENE I (From this point on BIRDMAN travels along many paths. This may be handled at the directorís discretion either by giving the audience a tour of the theatre grounds, tents, etc. or, more subtly through mime and ritual, as in Japanese Noh Drama, using the three spaces already designated on stage, and/or by having BIRDMAN narrate the action, changing ďBIRDMANĒ and ďheĒ to ďI.Ē In the later case the verbs would also be changed from present to past tense.)

BIRDMAN looks around outside and finds a large piece of bamboo for a walking stick. He taps it on the ground and enjoys its deep hollow sound. He walks down the path for a ways until he comes to a place where the path forks into two. One is wide and worn with traffic, while the other is narrow and overgrown. He takes the narrow path. BIRDMAN sees a big log sloshing around in the river. He thumps his stick to the sound of the sloshing and this action seems to bring the log to him.

BIRDMAN: To all the ends of the earth there is no such thing as dangerous.

BIRDMAN crawls onto the log. His tapping on it seems to cause it to take him across the river. There he finds where the path continues. BIRDMAN sees what seems to be a giant human figure in the distance, but it gets smaller as he gets closer. When he is near it he sees that it is a human body, standing erect and covered with maggots. It stands exactly as tall as he is. After he examines it for a moment he continues walking. BIRDMANíS flashlight goes out. He finds some straw and lights it for a torch. Soon bats come out and knock the torch from his hand, making the fire go out. This happens three more times until BIRDMAN begins carrying the torch behind his back. The wind gets stronger as he continues to walk. The trees seem to be talking about his life.

TREES (Barely audible sighing): He hit that boy in the stomach and knocked the breath out of him. He hit his cousin once and made him cry. He skipped school and hid from his mother in his room. She cried when she found him. Heís had sex with other menís wives. He hardly ever flosses. He couldnít play with the girl next door because he made a joke about wanting to be an F.B.I., female body inspector. He got his head stuck in the railing of the stairs when his parents were having company. He looked at his own sperm under a microscope. The other professors at U.T.D. thought of him as an idiot savant. His wife and best friend made a fool of him...

He moves quickly past the trees, trying not to listen to them. He passes between two rocks and finds a town very similar to Lavon, Texas. BIRDMAN sees his GRANDDAD working in his yard.

GRANDDAD: Hi, Bob!

BIRDMAN: You recognize me?

GRANDDAD: Itís your head. I always said you had a smart looking head. Now youíre looking old and wise.

(He laughs and hugs Birdman.)

You want a Dr. Pepper?

BIRDMAN: Ok.

GRANDDAD goes into this house and comes back with a partially frozen Dr. Pepper for BIRDMAN. BIRDMAN drinks some of it. From here on the set may be dimly lit. BIRDMAN no longer needs a flashlight or torch to see in this world.

BIRDMAN: Granddad?

GRANDDAD: Yep.

BIRDMAN: I know youíve been dead for a long time, but would you know whether I am or not.

GRANDDAD laughs like someone just told him a joke.

GRANDDAD: Now thatís a good one. Most people know whether theyíre alive or not, but I canít say I know for sure about you.

BIRDMAN: Well...can you tell me whether or not what Iím seeing is real or am I just imagining everything.

GRANDDAD: Now thatís a really smart question.

(Pauses to think)

Everything seems plenty real to me.

BIRDMAN: I guess that isnít going to help me much, if Iím not so sure youíre real.

GRANDDAD: Iím sorry I couldnít help you. Maybe you donít need to worry so much about all that. Just take things as they come. Youíll do fine. Youíre a smart boy.

BIRDMAN: Whereís Grandmama?

GRANDDAD: Sheís up at the nursery. I thought Iíd stay home today and do some work in the garden.

BIRDMAN: Can I help?

GRANDDAD: Sure. Grab a hoe, but donít strain yourself too much. You look older than me.

(He laughs.)

BIRDMAN and his GRANDDAD work in the garden.

GRANDDAD: What do you think of this weather?

BIRDMAN: Itís cooler, but I wouldnít mind seeing the sun every once in a while.

GRANDDAD laughs again. Soon they are hugging each other good-bye and BIRDMAN returns by the same path by which he came. Eventually he enters the hogan and collapses on his pile of blankets.

SCENE II

BIRDMAN looks for tobacco and corn meal in the house. He only finds a little corn meal and some snuff, puts them in his pocket and leaves the house. BIRDMAN goes to the fork in the path and, this time, chooses the broad well-traveled one. He comes to the door of a round house (hogan) and knocks. MAMA PRICE answers quietly from inside.

MAMA PRICE: Come in.

BIRDMAN enters the round house (hogan) and recognizes his grandmother.

MAMA PRICE: Howíre you doiní, Bob?

BIRDMAN: Ok, I guess. Feeliní kinda old and tired.

MAMA PRICE: Well thatís ok. You are old...and youíre so skinny. Donít you ever eat?

BIRDMAN: Just as little as possible. I brought you something.

BIRDMAN hands MAMA PRICE the corn meal and snuff.

MAMA PRICE: Thank you. Iím makiní some rice and youíre gonna sit down and eat it. It will probably give you a headache since you havenít eaten for so long.

BIRDMAN: Ok. Some rice would be nice.

BIRDMAN sits down and quietly eats some rice while MAMA PRICE watches.

BIRDMAN: Mama Price, do you know what I can do to help the people who are still trying to survive in this world?

MAMA PRICE: Yeah, but I think you have a headache.

BIRDMAN (Confused but trying to be polite): Ok, maybe.

MAMA PRICE: Let me take care of it for you.

MAMA PRICE stands behind BIRDMAN, opens his skull and removes his brain.

MAMA PRICE: There you go. Donít you feel better?

BIRDMAN: Yes, much better.

MAMA PRICE: What were you asking me just now?

BIRDMAN: I donít remember.

MAMA PRICE: Follow me.

She leads BIRDMAN outside to the steps of the theatre. MAMA PRICE shows BIRDMAN four steps imprinted with blue earth.

MAMA PRICE: Go on.

Each step takes BIRDMAN over a long distance at great speed. Everything seems a blur. Projections zoom across the walls of the theatre. A fire of light runs from one end of the theatre to the other. The last step brings him within a short walk to the hogan. BIRDMAN enters the hogan warily. BIRDMAN looks around the hogan. Everything seems ok.

SCENE III

BIRDMAN spends a long time looking at himself in the mirror in the house. He has all of the lights on. He is looking much older. He writes while periodically looking back at the mirror.

BIRDMAN: I donít recognize myself anymore. The skeletal old man I see could be anyone. Iím starting to even doubt who I am. All my relatives have always seemed so sure of who they were, and were confident in their relationship with Jesus and their place in Heaven. The preachers always said so at their funerals. Who, or what, am I? I am neither Christian, Moslem or Jew. I am not of the East, but Iím not purely of the West either, nor of the land, nor of the sea; I am not of Natureís make, nor of the circling heavens. I am not of the earth, nor of the water, nor of air, nor of fire; I am not empyrean, nor of the dust, nor of existence, nor of entity. I am not of the State of Texas, nor of the United State of America, I am not of this world, nor of the next, nor of Paradise, nor of Hell. My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless; it is neither body nor soul; for I belong to the soul of the One, the Beloved, Non-being before there ever was Becoming. I have, therefore, put duality away. I have seen that all worlds are one; One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call the first, the last, the outward, the inward. I know none other. I feel intoxicated by my desire to become united with the Source of All; the two worlds have passed completely out of my understanding. I have no business but to seek the True Reality beyond all appearance and to become one with It. I am almost gone. There isnít much left of me anymore.

SCENE IV

BIRDMAN runs naked out of the hogan and into the rain. He throws himself into an arroyo with water running down it. He chews the mud and grasps it with his hands, trying to bury himself in the mud. When he reaches hard rock he stops, washes himself off and goes back inside the hogan. The fire is going in the hogan. BIRDMAN wraps himself in a blanket.

SCENE V

BIRDMAN walks to the door and watches it snow. He returns to his bed, turns on the lamp and writes.

BIRDMAN: September 2, 2041. I like being in the hogan when thereís snow outside. It seems to add some insulation, making the small space seem warmer and cozier. I donít feel well. The snow is making me rest. I am still distrustful of any stuff coming out of the big black cloud that never goes away. I havenít had disturbing thoughts and, most of the time, I am not thinking about anything at all. I suppose Iím still feeling the effects of whatever Mama Price did to me the other day. I had always admired how detached she seemed to be when I knew her. When I visited her in the nursing home we would make a lot out of the weather, especially when we were having a rare Texas snow. She would say, ďThe weatherís always the same in here.Ē Thatís how I feel now. The weatherís perfect in here.

SCENE VI

BIRDMAN is in the hogan, putting his belongings in a pile. He sweeps and straightens the hogan, trying to make it look the same as it did when he came. When he is done he gathers his things and brings them intoJOSEPHíS house. BIRDMAN continues cleaning in JOSEPHíS house. He also puts some food in a bag and cuts holes in blankets. He wears the blankets like serapes. He wraps a big towel around his head, leaving only an opening for his eyes, and then he leaves the house. The path is covered by a thin layer of snow. BIRDMAN sees and follows one set of human footprints. BIRDMAN sees a silhouette of a human being in the distance. BIRDMAN sees the figure waiting before a passage between two hills. The hills crush together, open and the figure (who is now seen to be a woman) passes between them. BIRDMAN watches them long enough to analyze the rhythmic pattern of their crashing and then passes through. On the other side BIRDMAN sees that the woman is far ahead of him again. BIRDMAN continues to follow the woman who stops periodically, allowing him to gain some ground. On one side of the path he sees a rattlesnake as large as a python. On the other he sees an giant green lizard. Although they threaten him he passes between them. BIRDMAN is caught in a windstorm, which blows around black obsidian glass. He covers his eyes and continues to walk blindly until he walks into the wall of an adobe house. He searches for a door with his hands and enters it when he finds it. BIRDMAN enters the house and finds the woman standing, motionless and in trance.

BIRDMAN: Excuse me...uh...Iím sorry...uh, the storm...Iím, uh, Bob Price...Birdman. Whatís your name?...Uh, I hope you donít mind my following you...I, uh, didnít know where else to go and I thought that maybe...you did...uh, that you might know something that could help me. Nothingís been the same since the sun stopped rising...Do you speak English?...

(Getting frustrated)

Do you speak at all?!

The DARK WOMAN continues to stare quietly into space. BIRDMAN makes himself comfortable and goes to sleep.

SCENE VII

BIRDMAN wakes to the sound of the door slamming shut. He gets up and rushes out the door. BIRDMAN catches up with the DARK WOMAN and tries to grab her arm. His hand goes through the arm.

DARK WOMAN (Speaking with an Eastern European accent): What are you going to do? Do you think you can get me back into my body? I am nothink now.

BIRDMAN: I was just trying to stop you so that I might talk to you for a while. You appear to be something.

DARK WOMAN: Thinks are seldom what they appear to be.

The DARK WOMAN leaves quickly and BIRDMAN canít keep up. Soon she has put the same amount of distance between them as she had earlier. BIRDMAN watches the woman cross a bridge, which rises and falls. Other people cross with her. A large bird flies at them and scares some souls into falling into the water where they turn into fish. The woman crosses safely and then speaks to some men who seem to sniff in BIRDMANíS direction. BIRDMAN crosses safely and is approached by the men.

CHIEF: This is a bad country. You should not have come. The woman you followed is only soul. She has left her bones with her body. She cannot come back to life.

BIRDMAN: I know. She told me. Please let me stay for a while. I might learn something from it.

CHIEF: You may stay for no more than two days, then you must leave.

The CHIEF brings BIRDMAN to a small hut, which opens to an area where people are singing, dancing and playing drums. It is a round dance and there is much shouting. The DARK WOMAN is in the crowd.

CHIEF (Pointing at the DARK WOMAN): See the woman you followed in the crowd. Tomorrow you will see know one.

The CHIEF leaves BIRDMAN who watches the dance for a while. The people seem to avoid BIRDMAN because of his smell. He goes inside the hut. BIRDMAN lies down and doses off.

SCENE VIII

BIRDMAN opens his eyes and sees the DARK WOMAN standing over him.

BIRDMAN (Startled): You startled me.

DARK WOMAN: The Chief asked me to speak to you...so that you might leave.

BIRDMAN: I had wanted one day just to talk to you. I havenít talked to anyone in a while. Also, you seem to know something about this strange world. Who are you?

DARK WOMAN: I am nothink.

BIRDMAN (Uncomfortable but trying to be witty): You seem to be exactly what I had been seeking.

DARK WOMAN: Ah, that must be why you were following me.

(Laughs)

BIRDMAN: I guess so. I wasnít having very much luck getting ďnothingĒ to follow me, so I thought I should seek it out.

DARK WOMAN: But, you seek it as if it were some kind of object. Thatís making somethink out of nothink. You wonít really find nothink until you are nothink.

BIRDMAN: I found you.

DARK WOMAN: Yes, but I still appear as somethink to you, whereas, in reality, and for myself, I am nothink.

BIRDMAN (Blushing): What is it like being nothing?

DARK WOMAN (Laughing): That is a very absurd question.

BIRDMAN: Iím sorry. Itís rather difficult to think of something to say to someone who doesnít actually exist, though you appear to exist even as much as I exist.

DARK WOMAN: There you go speakink of appearance again.

BIRDMAN: Isnít that all anyone has with which to interact? Something about what I am experiencing must have some relationship to physical reality. I mean, Iím in a cozy hut with a warm fire and a beautiful woman.

DARK WOMAN (Laughing again): Well, I can say for sure that you are certainly alive.

They continue talking.

BIRDMAN (To the audience): The conversation went on like this for several hours. It was delightful, but all I could gather from it was that she was likely merely a projection from myself. Perhaps she was the Muse. In which case, I have often seen her before, but always mixed with impressions received by my senses. In this dark world my senses seem to have very little to do with my experience.

BIRDMAN doses off to sleep.

SCENE IX

When BIRDMAN wakes he sees that the DARK WOMAN has vanished, a stump of oak being where she had been sitting. BIRDMAN touches the oak and then pounds on it with his hands until they bleed. CHIEF enters.

CHIEF: Sir, I must ask you to return from whence you came, not only for ourselves, but for the sake of your own health and sanity.

BIRDMAN: Please, Iím not ready to return. Is there another place I can go?

CHIEF: Iíll show you.

They leave the hut. The CHIEF leads BIRDMAN to a path marked by red ocre.

CHIEF: Follow this path marked with red ocre. It will take you to other villages of the dead, but I am sure that the other chiefs will tell you to go back.

The path takes BIRDMAN down a long gentle slope, ending at a wide shallow stream of very clear water. BIRDMAN sees footprints on a slender log, which reaches across the stream. BIRDMAN slowly and carefully walks across the stream on the log. The path continues on the other side. The red path continues up a hill and then levels off. There, BIRDMAN sees a huge heap of clothes. Eventually the red on the path fades to the natural color of sand. BIRDMAN is stopped by three old men, with long gray hair, before reaching a large mound-like lodge (house). BIRDMAN is question consecutively by the three men.

FIRST MAN: Whatís your name?

BIRDMAN: Birdman.

FIRST MAN: Youíre too early. Why are you here?

BIRDMAN: To learn.

FIRST MAN: What do you expect to learn?

BIRDMAN: I havenít any expectations. Iím open to whatever happens.

FIRST MAN: You donít belong here.

BIRDMAN: I am far away from my own lodging. May I stay just for a night?

FIRST MAN: If the other two men will let you pass. I donít think they will though, so you might as well leave.

BIRDMAN: I would like to try.

FIRST MAN: Suit yourself.

BIRDMAN continues and is approached by a SECOND MAN.

SECOND MAN: Are you coming here to see anyone in particular?

BIRDMAN: No, Iím not.

SECOND MAN: What will you do when you leave here?

BIRDMAN: I will die.

SECOND MAN: No one dies here. They have already died. You should go somewhere else.

BIRDMAN: Please let me stay the night. I am very tired.

SECOND MAN: You may if you can get past the next man, but he isnít very agreeable. Iím sure he will tell you to turn back, so you might as well leave now.

BIRDMAN: I would rather try speaking to him first.

SECOND MAN: Suit yourself.

BIRDMAN continues on until he encounters the THIRD MAN.

THIRD MAN: You must go back now. You are still alive.

BIRDMAN: Please, let me stay the night. I promise to leave after I have rested a little.

THIRD MAN: You will find no rest here. Itís very noisy.

BIRDMAN: Thatís fine. I will be able to sleep. I just need the shelter.

THIRD MAN: But, you will see something you shouldnít. You have already come too far.

BIRDMAN: Thatís precisely why I canít go back right away. I havenít the strength. I will have little time to do anything with the knowledge I will have gained from being here.

THIRD MAN: I would prefer not to have someone die among these good souls. It could be distressing for them.

BIRDMAN: I think I can hang on for a night.

THIRD MAN (Looking him over): Iím not so sure, but Iíd rather have you stay inside for the night than sleep on our doorstep and perhaps die of the cold.

BIRDMAN: Thank you.

The THIRD MAN leads BIRDMAN to the door of a lodge in the shape of a huge mound. BIRDMAN can hear laughing, singing and drumming on the other side. The man opens the door for BIRDMAN who is temporarily blinded by the light of a double row of fires, extending down to another door. The space seems much larger inside (perhaps it encompasses the entire performance space). BIRDMAN settles on a comfortable bed and watches thousands of naked people singing, dancing and drumming. No one speaks to BIRDMAN and he goes to sleep.

SCENE X

When BIRDMAN awakes he walks to the door. He walks a short distance from the lodge and grabs his left arm. The lodge seems unusually quiet and people whisper as they peer at him through the door.

BIRDMAN (Singing): Sita Rama, Sita Ram, Sita Rama, Sita Ram...

A ray of light shines down on BIRDMAN, causing his skin to erupt into a blinding luminescence. BIRDMANíS voice turns into loud screams, varying in pitch like the voices of thousands of ancient spirits. BIRDMANíS light extends to the sky while a purple vapor rotates around it. Glowing orbs pass through the light and beyond the dark cloud. The pillar of light dims until BIRDMAN is visible again.

SCENE XI

BIRDMAN opens his eyes and finds himself alone. The door of the lodge is closed and the sounds of singing and drumming have resumed (on tape). BIRDMAN gets up and slowly shuffles away. BIRDMAN wades through the stream rather than walking over the log and then walks slowly back to JOSEPHíS house. He speaks these lines while he walks:

BIRDMAN: The more I weep, the more I am afflicted,

the more my heart may not desire it,

have I not, when all is said, to go to the Land of Mystery?

Here on earth our hearts say:

Oh my friends, would that we were immortal,

oh friends, where is this land in which one does not die?

Shall it be there that I go? Does my mother live there? Does 

my father live there?

In the Land of Mystery my heart shudders: if only I had not 

to die, had not to perish

I suffer and feel pain.

Thou hast left thy fame already well-founded

O Prince Tlacahuepantzin.

The fact is that here we are but slaves.

Men are simply standing

before him though who everything lives.

Birth comes, life comes upon the earth.

We come only to sleep,

we come only to dream:

It is not true, not true we come to live on the earth:

Spring grass are we become:

It comes, gloriously trailing, it pulls out buds, our heart,

the flower of our bodies opens a few petals, then withers!

BIRDMAN enters JOSEPHíS house, puts his things away and gets ready to sleep. He writes before going to bed.

BIRDMAN: I am at Josephís. I am just a withered old man now with barely a spark of life left in his body. I will not enter the hogan and I still donít know why I returned. The smiling photographs around me make me sad. I cannot let myself sleep eternally here in this house only to be found later, a rotting and smelling horror, but I just need to rest a little. I must leave this house, but I have no idea where I should go. After having been down all those paths, so well traveled by souls, I still havenít found the road I sought. None of those paths were meant for me. Perhaps I will simply vanish like the dark woman whom I followed. ďI am nothink,Ē she said. Oh for the blessed comfort of being nothing. All I can do now is rest.

(He stops writing, turns out the light and recites this poem in the dark.)

I seek you like a light in the dark abyss

Without a clue of what it is I seek.

I thought I would cease my longing in the dark void,

But my mind races to you which I find,

A beauty unfolding like a rose,

And I caress each petal and every leaf

Trying to find some new knowledge of you

By the intimate details of our touching,

The scent of your being and the hue of your presence.

Only because of you can there be I.

BIRDMAN falls asleep and dreams. BIRDBOY is with his dog, crossing the creek behind his house. They cross eight others before reaching a barbed-wire fence on a grassy field. BIRDBOY and his dog sit and watch peacocks as they appear. They strut and display their feathers until a strong wind blows the birds apart, causing a blizzard of multi-colored feathers. The wind blows away the feathers, the grass, the fence, the dog, the sun, the earth and even BIRDBOY himself. BIRDMAN wakes up to the sound of something scratching at the door. He doesnít get up, but falls back to sleep.

SCENE XII

(Scratching, barking and whining sounds) BIRDMAN pulls himself out of bed and goes to the door where he finds what appears to be his dog, Happy.

BIRDMAN: Happy! Come on! Come on in, Happy!

Happy will not come into the house.BIRDMAN goes out. Happy leads BIRDMAN down the path to the canyon (the audience). BIRDMAN watches Happy disappear and reappear several times in the darkest part of the canyon. She lays her head on BIRDMANíS lap and they stare into each otherís eyes while he pets her.

SCENE XIII

Happy sleeps on the couch while BIRDMAN cleans the house. He burns some sage and takes all of his things outside. BIRDMAN burns all of his belongings (including his instruments) except for his journal. He starts to put it on the fire but decides against it.

SCENE XIV

BIRDMAN wakes in his full regalia. He pets Happyís stomach, which causes her to sneeze. BIRDMAN opens the door of the house and sees a row of fires leading to the canyon. He looks at the fires while he walks with Happy to the canyon. After BIRDMAN stands looking at the canyon for a moment he walks back along the fires. He puts his head dress in the first fire, his disc-shaped ear rings in the next, his beads and conch shell in the next, his belt in the next, his bracelets and ankle bells in the next, his breechcloth/kilt in the next, his wings in the next and he places his mask in the last fire. Happy is gone. BIRDMAN whistles for her but she doesnít come. BIRDMAN goes into the house naked. He writes in his journal.

BIRDMAN: These are the last words Iíll be able to write. I feel calm, yet also a little happy and excited. Soon this book will be all there is of me, although, as I have often said, it does not represent me at my best. Soon, after I tuck this back into its place on the shelf, I will be at my best. Whoever reads this...

Lights come up on a young woman who is reading to a family of people of all ages in the house while BIRDMAN stays frozen.

SARAH:...has my warmest wishes for their continued lives. You are living at a time in which a new world is beginning. Good luck to you! God be with you!

She stares over the heads of her audience at a flock of sheep grazing just outside the door. BIRDMAN slips the journal next to some yearbooks on JOSEPHíS bookshelves. Lights dim to black on SARAH and her family while BIRDMAN leaves the house. He walks naked past each fire and slowly disappears into the dark abyss.